Virgil (horse)

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CountryUnited States
BreederHyman C. Gratz
Owner1. Quindaro Stud
2. Daniel Swigert
3. Col. R.W. Simmons
4. Milton H. Sanford
Record8: 6-?-?
Leading sire in North America (1885)
Last updated on June 2, 2009

Virgil (1864–1886) was an American thoroughbred racehorse that was bred in Kentucky by Hyman C. Gratz. He was a brown to dark bay stallion, was approximately 16 hands high and had a prominent white star on his forehead.[2] His sire, Vandal, was the second leading sire of the time, behind the great Lexington. Virgil was a direct descendant of the thoroughbred foundation sire Herod and was the leading sire in the United States in 1885.[1]

Virgil was trained as a flat-racer, buggy racer and jumper. He had a total of 8 starts on the flat racing circuit, netting 6 wins. Virgil tended to run his best in races less than 1½ miles. In 1869, Virgil was bought by R.W. Simmons, who trained him for steeple chasing.[2]

After his racing and jumping career, he was briefly contracted as a logging horse, which took its toll on his joints and appearance.[1]

He was eventually bought in the 1870s by Milton Sanford. His stud career and Milton Sanford's Elmendorf Farm was started by accident when Virgil was allowed to stand in for Sanford's regular stallion, Glenelg. Sanford briefly sold Virgil to B.G. Bruce but bought him back for $2500 after Vagrant won the Kentucky Derby in 1876.[2][3] Virgil remained at Elmendorf Stud until his death at the age of 22 in September 1886.[2]

He is the sire of three Kentucky Derby winners: Vagrant (1876), Hindoo (1881) and Ben Ali (1886). He also sired other successful flat-racers Tremont, Virgilian and Carley B, winner of the 1882 Travers Stakes.[4]


  1. ^ Avalyn Hunter, American Classic Pedigrees: 1914–2003, Blood Horse Publications, 2003.
  2. ^ NY Times. Sep. 12, 1886
  3. ^ Virgil Pedigree
  4. ^ Sanders Dewees Bruce, The horse-breeder's guide and hand book, 1883.