Sir Barton

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This article is about the American racehorse. For the first Prime Minister of Australia, see Edmund Barton.
Sir Barton
SirBarton-Johnny Loftus-1919Preakness.jpg
Sir Barton & jockey Johnny Loftus, 1919
Sire Star Shoot
Grandsire Isinglass
Dam Lady Sterling
Damsire Hanover
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1916
Country Canada
Colour Chestnut
Breeder John E. Madden
Owner J. K. L. Ross
Trainer H. Guy Bedwell
Record 31: 13-6-5
Earnings $116,857
Major wins

Potomac Handicap (1919)
Withers Stakes (1919)
Saratoga Handicap (1920)
Merchants and Citizens Handicap (1920)

Triple Crown race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1919)
Preakness Stakes (1919)
Belmont Stakes (1919)
1st U.S. Triple Crown Champion (1919)
Unofficial United States Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1919)
Unofficial United States Horse of the Year (1919)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1957)
Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (1976)
#49 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Sir Barton Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack
Sir Barton Way in Lexington, Kentucky

Sir Barton (April 26, 1916 – October 30, 1937) was a chestnut thoroughbred colt who in 1919 became the first winner of what would come to be known as the American Triple Crown.

He was sired by leading stud Star Shoot out of the Hanover mare Lady Sterling. His grandsire was the 1893 English Triple Crown champion, Isinglass.[1]

Sir Barton was bred in Kentucky by John E. Madden and Vivian A. Gooch at Hamburg Place Farm near Lexington.

Racing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Madden raced the colt in his own ownership during his two-year-old season. He was entered in six races, winning none. Madden sold the horse in 1918 for $10,000 to Canadian businessman J. K. L. Ross that owned a farm property in Vercheres, Quebec where he established his own breeding operation.[2]

Ross placed Sir Barton in the hands of trainer H. Guy Bedwell and jockey Johnny Loftus.

Triple Crown[edit]

At three, Sir Barton made his season debut as a maiden in the Kentucky Derby. He was supposed to be the rabbit (pacemaker) for his highly regarded stablemate, a horse named Billy Kelly. However, Sir Barton led the field of 12 horses from start to finish, winning the race by five lengths.[3] Just four days later, the horse was in Baltimore and won the Preakness Stakes, beating Eternal by four lengths. Again he led all the way.[4] He then won the Withers Stakes in New York and shortly thereafter completed the first Triple Crown in U.S. history by easily winning the Belmont Stakes, setting an American record for the mile and three-eighths race, the distance for the Belmont at the time. Sir Barton's four wins were accomplished in a space of just 32 days. He has been retrospectively honored as the 1919 Horse of the Year.

1920: four-year-old season[edit]

As a four-year-old, Sir Barton won five of the 12 races he entered during the 1920 season. In one of these races, the Saratoga Handicap, he beat Exterminator. While carrying 133 pounds, Sir Barton set a world record for 1 3/16 miles on dirt in winning the August 28, 1920 edition of the Merchants and Citizens Handicap.[5] However, it was his match race on October 12 that year against Man o' War at Kenilworth Park in Windsor, Ontario, Canada that is most remembered. Sir Barton, who suffered from hoof problems throughout his career, was unsuited for Kenilworth's hard surface, and was beaten by seven lengths.[6]

Retirement and stud[edit]

He retired to stud that year, virtually forgotten by the public. In 1922 Ross sold Sir Barton to B.B. Jones, who stood him at his Audley Farm in Berryville, Virginia, where he remained until 1933.[7] In December 2008, a statue of Sir Barton was unveiled in front of Audley Farm's stallion barn. The statue, by American sculptor Jan Woods, was a gift from Erich von Baumbach, Jr., whose family has had an association with the farm for thirty years.[8]

Despite being considered a "failure" at stud, Sir Barton sired the 1928 Kentucky Oaks winner and 1928 Champion Three Year Old Filly, Easter Stockings. He also sired Fort Thomas Handicap winner Nellie Custis. After being retired from stud duty at Audley Farm, Sir Barton spent the better part of the rest of his life as a working horse with the U.S. Army Remount Service in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, until being sold to rancher J.R. Hylton in Douglas, Wyoming.[9]

Sir Barton died of colic on October 30, 1937 and was buried on Hylton's ranch in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains. Later his remains were moved to Washington Park in Douglas, Wyoming, where a memorial was erected to honor America's first Triple Crown winner.[10]

Honors and awards[edit]

Sir Barton was officially recognized by the governing body as the first Triple Crown winner in 1948.[citation needed]

Sir Barton and Star Shoot both have streets named in their honor in Lexington, Kentucky, in the Hamburg Pavilion shopping center area. Sir Barton Way runs from Winchester Road to Man O' War Boulevard; Star Shoot Parkway runs from the shopping center across Sir Barton Way to Liberty Road.

Sir Barton was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957.[11] In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, he is no. 49.


Pedigree of Sir Barton
Star Shoot
Isinglass Isonomy Sterling
Isola Bella
Deadlock Wenlock
Astrology Hermit Newminster
Stella Brother To Strafford
Toxophilite Mare
Lady Sterling
Hanover Hindoo Virgil
Bourbon Belle Bonnie Scotland
Ella D.
Aquila Sterling Oxford
Eagle Phoenix
Au Revoir


  1. ^ "Sir Barton pedigree". 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  2. ^ "Hall of Fame - Builder - Commander J.K.L. Ross, 1976". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  3. ^ "2006 | 2012 Kentucky Oaks & Derby | May 4 and 5, 2012 | Tickets, Events, News". 1967-01-12. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  4. ^ "Sir Barton is victor in Preakness". Gazette Times. May 15, 1919. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  5. ^ Special to The New York Times. (1920-08-29). "SIR BARTON SETS NEW WORLD MARK". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  6. ^ "Sir Barton". Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  7. ^ "Audley Farm, Berryville, VA". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  8. ^ "Audley Farm Honors Sir Barton". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  9. ^ Stephanie Diaz (1994-06-27). "June 27, 1994 ''Sports Illustrated'' article on Sir Barton". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  10. ^ "Sir Barton (1916 - 1937) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  11. ^ "Sir Barton profile". Retrieved 2012-08-05.