Hoist The Flag

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Hoist The Flag
SireTom Rolfe
DamWavy Navy
DamsireWar Admiral
CountryUnited States
BreederJohn M. Schiff
OwnerJane Forbes Clark I
TrainerSidney Watters, Jr.
Record6: 5-0-0
Major wins
Cowdin Stakes (1970)
Bay Shore Stakes (1971)
American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt (1970)
Leading broodmare sire in North America (1987)

Hoist The Flag (1968–1980) was an American Champion Thoroughbred racehorse. He was the outstanding two-year-old colt in the United States in 1970 when his wins included the Cowdin Stakes. Hoist The Flag was being prepared for the Triple Crown races when his career was ended by a leg injury. He subsequently became a highly successful and influential breeding stallion.


Hoist The Flag was a dark-coated bay horse with a small white star,[1] bred by New York City Investment banker, John Schiff. Hoist The Flag was out of the mare Wavy Navy, a daughter of the 1937 U.S. Triple Crown champion, War Admiral. His sire was Tom Rolfe, the 1965 American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse and a son of the undefeated European superstar, Ribot.

Hoist The Flag was purchased as a yearling for $37,000 by Jane Forbes Clark I (née Wilbur), wife of noted philanthropist Stephen C. Clark, Jr. who also owned and raced top steeplechase horses. The colt's race conditioning was handled by future U.S. Racing Hall of Fame trainer, Sidney Watters, Jr. and his jockey was Jean Cruguet, who six years later would ride Seattle Slew to a U.S. Triple Crown championship.

Racing career[edit]

As a two-year-old, Hoist The Flag dominated his age group and was the heavy winterbook favorite for the 1971 Kentucky Derby. Hoist The Flag finished first by several lengths in each of his four starts but in the Champagne Stakes was disqualified from first and set back to last for interference during the early stages of the race. He came out of the race with sore shins and was sent to recuperate at facilities in Camden, South Carolina. He was voted the 1970 American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt.

For 1971, Hoist The Flag was assigned highweight of 126 pounds on The Jockey Club's Experimental Free Handicap. He did not return to racing until March 12, 1971 when he blew away the competition by 15 lengths in an overnight race at Bowie Race Track.[2] In his next start on March 20, the colt won the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack by seven lengths while setting a new track record. No three-year-old had ever run seven furlongs faster than the 1:21 Hoist The Flag clocked in winning the Bay Shore.[3]

On March 30, 1971, Hoist The Flag was at Belmont Park where he was scheduled to run in the Gotham Stakes as a tune-up before the Kentucky Derby. Following a five furlong workout, the colt took a misstep and broke his right hind leg in two places, suffering a shattered pastern and a fractured cannon bone that ended his racing career and put his life in jeopardy. Veterinary Surgeons performed a bone graft, using screws and metal plates to secure the breaks then created the first ever fiberglass cast to wrap around the horse's leg.[4] While Hoist The Flag eventually recovered, in 2006, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro would suffer a very similar injury but following surgery developed laminitis and had to be euthanized .

Stud record[edit]

Following his recovery from surgery, Hoist The Flag was sent to stand at stud at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky where he sired 254 live foals. Successful as a sire and as a broodmare sire, he was the leading juvenile sire in North America in 1981 and the leading broodmare sire in 1987. Among his notable offspring, Hoist The Flag was the sire of:

Hoist The Flag was the damsire of:

Hoist the Flag died in 1980 and is buried at Claiborne Farm.


In a 2004 televised interview, jockey Jean Cruguet, perhaps best known for his Triple Crown victory on Seattle Slew, said Hoist The Flag was the best horse he ever rode.[5]

Jockey Jean Cruguet would reiterate and amplify his remarks in an August 2011 interview with Brisnet.

"Hoist the Flag was the best horse I ever rode, by far... It wasn't Seattle Slew. The first time I ever got on Hoist the Flag (as a two-year-old), I told everyone I knew that I was going to win the Kentucky Derby with this horse. The only reason I didn't say 'the Triple Crown' was because I was so new in this county I didn't even know what the Triple Crown was. I'd never even heard of it. If he hadn't broke down (early in his three-year-old season but eventually saved for stud duties), Hoist the Flag would have been 1-9 to win the Triple Crown. "Seattle Slew was a top miler, and because he was so much better than everyone else that year he was able to win the Triple Crown, but Hoist the Flag would have beat everyone else going any distance at any time. He was just that much better than everyone else."[6]


Pedigree of Hoist The Flag (USA), bay stallion' 1968[7]
Tom Rolfe
Ribot Tenerani Bellini
Romanella El Greco
Barbara Burrini
Pocahontas Roman Sir Gallahad
How Princequillo
The Squaw
Wavy Navy
War Admiral Man o' War Fair Play
Brushup Sweep
Annette K.
Triomphe Tourbillon Ksar
Melibee Firdaussi


  1. ^ "Hoist The Flag image". claibornefarm.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  2. ^ "Derby Favorite 15-Length Victor With Fastest Six Furlongs of Meeting". The New York Times. March 13, 1971. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  3. ^ Nichols, Joe (March 21, 1971). "Hoist the Flag, 1.5, Wins by 7 Lengths". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  4. ^ Whitney Tower (1971-04-12). "The Flag is down, the dream horse of 1971 has shattered". Vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  5. ^ [1] Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Cruguet to get back in the saddle at Arlington - Handicappers' Edge". Brisnet.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  7. ^ "Hoist The Flag pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-08-01.