Boston (horse)

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Boston (USA).jpg
Boston, from the painting by Edward Troye
GrandsireSir Archy
DamSister to Tuckahoe
DamsireBall’s Florizel
CountryUnited States
BreederJohn Wickham
OwnerNathaniel Rives,
2. Col. William R. Johnson & James Long
TrainerCapt. John Blecher
2. Arthur Taylor
Record45: 40-2-1
United States Racing Hall of Fame inductee (1955)

Boston (1833–1850) was an outstanding Thoroughbred racehorse and a Leading sire in North America three times from 1851 to 1853. He started in about 45 races, winning 40, including 15 in succession. Boston was later one of the initial inductees into the Hall of Fame.


He was a chestnut stallion with a white blaze on his nose, and he was foaled in Richmond, Virginia. Boston was bred by Virginia attorney John Wickham (who had been Aaron Burr's counsel in his trial for treason). He was by Timoleon (by the Sir Archy); his dam was a sister to Tuckahoe, by Ball's Florizel. Boston was inbred to Diomed in the third generation (3m x 3f).[1] He was a half-brother to the Shylock mare who founded a successful family. They were from the number 40 family, which traced back to the imported mare Kitty Fisher.[2]

As a two-year-old, Boston was lost by his breeder in a card game and was given to Wickham's friend Nathaniel Rives of Richmond to repay his debt of $800. He was named after a popular card game and later given the nickname of "Old Whitenose". Boston had a wilful temperament and was difficult to train.[3] He was sent to the stable of John Belcher, and then to the trainer L. White, and then back to Belcher. White said, "The horse should either be castrated or shot—preferably the latter."[4]

Racing record[edit]

On April 20, 1836, he was entered into a match in Richmond against a colt of White's. Boston ran away with the race, gaining a long lead, only to stop and sulk.

Back under saddle, Boston won fifteen races in succession. From Georgia to New York, he raced until he was a ten-year-old, winning 40 of his 45 starts. In those days, races weren't stakes, graded or otherwise, and they weren't run on specially prepared racecourses. They were heats across open country and 30 of Boston's victories were in these four-miles heats, while another 9 wins were in three-mile heats.[5] Boston had established himself as a great—if tempestuous—race horse and more than once, his then owner (Colonel W. R. Johnson, called the "Napoleon of the Turf") was paid good money not to race, in order to encourage other owners to enter their horses in an event.

Boston versus Fashion Match Race[edit]

The accepted wisdom is that Boston lost on his merit only once. In May 1842, he met the filly Fashion, the daughter of Trustee and Bonnets o' Blue, in a well-touted match race at the Union Course on Long Island, New York. Seventy thousand people witnessed the event. In the first heat, the nine-year-old Boston (carrying 126 pounds) cut open a long, jagged gash on his hip against a rail, and both he and five-year-old Fashion (carrying 111 pounds) were upset by the crowd often surging onto the track. Boston led for three miles, but Fashion won by 60 yards, setting a new world record of 7:32½ for a four-mile heat.[6]

Stud record[edit]

Boston was the leading sire in 1841, 1842 and 1843, beginning his stud career even before he raced against Fashion. (He'd covered 42 mares before the match at $100 each.) He stood, at first, in Hanover County, Virginia, then in Washington, D.C., and was then led over the mountains to Kentucky where he spent his last seasons in Woodford County, Kentucky. It was in Kentucky that he was finally bred with mares of good quality, which enabled him to become a leading sire. He was also a sire of trotters.

Some Boston’s noted progeny were:

  • Ringgold, an outstanding galloper and sire of Tipperary (sire of Belmont Stakes winner Calvin)
  • Commodore who became a good sire
  • Lexington, foaled in 1850 after Boston's death. He became America's leading sire for 16 years and maintained his sire-line through Norfolk 1861—Emperor Of Norfolk 1885—Americus 1892 to Golden Rod (GB) 1906. Lexington's progeny captured a record seven Triple Crowns as well as a nine Travers Stakes races.

By 1849, Boston was blind and in such poor health he could stand only with the aid of a harness. He was found dead in his stall on January 31, 1850, blind and emaciated from illness. His two best sons, Lexington and Lecomte, were born in the spring after his death.

Boston was one of the first groups of horses inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1955.[7]


Pedigree of Boston, chestnut stallion, foaled 1833[8]
ch. 1813/1814
Sir Archy
br. 1805
Diomed Florizel
Sister to Juno
Castianira Rockingham
Saltram mare
br. 1801
Saltram Eclipse
Wildair mare Symmes' Wildair
Driver mare
Sister to Tuckahoe
ch. 1814
Ball's Florizel
ch. 1801
Diomed Florizel
Sister to Juno
Shark mare Shark
Eclipse mare
Alderman mare
b. 1799
Alderman Pot-8-Os
Lady Bolingbroke
Clockfast mare Clockfast
Wildair mare (Family 40)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morris, Simon; Tesio Power 2000 - Stallions of the World, Syntax Software
  2. ^ Bobinski, Captain Kazimierz & Zamoyski, Lt-Colonel Stefan Count; Volume I: Family Table of Racehorses, New York Jockey Club, 1953
  3. ^ Thoroughbred Bloodlines: Boston Retrieved 2010-9-13
  4. ^ Thoroughbred Heritage: Boston Retrieved 2010-9-13
  5. ^ Montgomery, E.S, "The Thoroughbred", Arco, New York, 1973 ISBN 0-668-02824-6
  6. ^ Thoroughbred Heritage: BostonvsFashion Retrieved 2010-9-13
  7. ^ National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Archived August 8, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2010-9-13
  8. ^