Vagrant (racehorse)

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Vagrant (horse).jpeg
1877 drawing by T.J. Scott
DamsireScythian (GB)
CountryUnited States
BreederMilton H. Sanford
Owner1. T. J. Nichols
2.William B. Astor, Jr.
3. J. J Bevin
TrainerA. Davis Pryor (at 3)
James Williams
Record88: 20-12-12
Major wins
Alexander Stakes (1875)
Belle Meade Stakes (1875)
Sanford Stakes (1875)
Colt Stakes (1875)
Colt and Filly Stakes (1875)
Phoenix Hotel Stakes (1876)
Grand Exposition Stakes (1876) Triple Crown race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1876)
U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Colt (1875)
U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Colt (1876)

Vagrant, (1873 – c.1890) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse that is best known for his 1876 Kentucky Derby win. Vagrant was the first of nine geldings to win the Kentucky Derby and was a white-stockinged bay colt sired by Virgil out of the mare Lazy (by Scythian (GB)).[1] Virgil was notable for breeding successful nineteenth century race horses and stood at Milton H. Sanford's Elmendorf Stud in Kentucky. Vagrant is related, through his sire, to two other early Kentucky Derby winners, Hindoo (1881) and Ben Ali (1886).[2]

Racing career[edit]

Vagrant was a promising two-year-old, winning the 1875 Belle Meade Stakes, Alexander Stakes and Sanford Stakes while owned by T.J. Nichols, and sharing the title of U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Colt with Parole that year.[3]

As a three-year-old, Vagrant won five of his six starts at up to a mile, and was clearly the top juvenile of 1876. That year, Vagrant won the Phoenix Hotel Stakes by 50 yards and also won the Grand Exposition Stakes in Philadelphia.[3],[4}

The second Kentucky Derby was run on a fast track with a field of 11 horses.[2] Vagrant won the Derby, with Robert Swim up, by two lengths over the betting favorite, Parole, winning a total of $2,950.[2]

After the Kentucky Derby and the Phoenix Stakes win, millionaire William B. Astor, Jr. purchased Vagrant for $7,000, an impressive figure for a thoroughbred of that era.[4] Vagrant injured his leg at the 1876 Philadelphia Grand Exposition Stakes and was rested for a season in 1877 until his leg healed in 1878.[4]

Vagrant was sold to J.J Bevin in the 1880s and raced under his name until 1882, when at the Jerome Park race track, Vagrant became very lame after a race.[5] His racing stats list only one start in 1883, indicating that Vagrant, at age ten, was permanently retired from racing.

Vagrant was widely rumored to have been a vegetable cart horse in Lexington after his racing career, having been sold into this service sometime after 1883.[6]

A 1910 Daily Racing Form article states that Vagrant died at around 17 years of age (c. 1890) while being used as a saddle horse for a woman that lived in Long Island.[7]

Vagrant Total Race Record[edit]

Year # of Starts # of Firsts # of Seconds # of Thirds Earnings
1875 6 5 0 1 $3,800
1876 4 3 1 0 $6,540
1878 12 0 0 4 $0
1879 14 3 2 2 $1,175
1880 23 7 3 3 $1,500
1881 21 2 5 2 $875
1882 7 0 1 0 $75
1883 1 0 0 0 $0
Totals 88 20 12 12 $13,875


Pedigree of Vagrant




Glencoe I Sultan
Tranby Mare Tranby


Yorkshire St Nicholas
Miss Rose
Little Peggy Cripple
Peggy Stewart




Orlando Touchstone
Scythia Hetman Platoff
The Princess


Lexington Boston
Alice Carneal
Picayune Medoc
Sally Howe


  1. ^ Vagrant Pedigree
  2. ^ Jim Bolus, Run for the Roses: 100 years at the Kentucky Derby. Hawthorn Books, INC. New York, 1974.
  3. ^ Henry G. Crickmore and D. W. Higgins, Kirk's guide to the turf. 1882 [1]
  4. ^ NY Times. Mar. 30, 1878
  5. ^ NY Times, Oct. 4, 1882
  6. ^ St. Paul Daily Globe. "Pick a Derby winner." May 6, 1889.
  7. ^ Daily Racing Form. "Careers of Kentucky Derby winners." May 19, 1910.