1919 Triple Crown Winner Profile
Sire: Star Shoot
Dam: Lady Sterling
Owner: J. K. L. Ross
Breeder: John E. Madden and Vivian A. Gooch
Trainer: H. Guy Bedwell
Primary Jockey: Johnny Loftus
Race record: 31 starts, 13 wins, 6 seconds, 5 thirds
Sir Barton wasn’t supposed to win the Kentucky Derby, much less the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. But against all odds, the front-running colt made history with a sweep of all three races in 1919, establishing the lucrative triple as crown worth winning.
Sir Barton’s success in the spring classics is remarkable considering he showed very little promise as a 2-year-old. Purchased partway through the season by Command J. K. L. Ross of Canada, Sir Barton competed exclusively against stakes company as a juvenile, but went 0-for-6 and failed to hit the board until finishing second in the prestigious Futurity at Belmont Park, his final run of the year.
It was an inauspicious beginning, but Sir Barton matured over the winter and was entered in the Kentucky Derby to serve as a pacemaker for his acclaimed stablemate Billy Kelly. It was anticipated Sir Barton would carve out fast fractions and give way in the homestretch, but the improving chestnut colt had other plans. When Billy Kelly challenged in the homestretch, Sir Barton kicked away to win by five lengths.
Having tasted victory for the first time, Sir Barton evidently decided he liked the flavor. Just four days after the Derby he cruised to a four-length success in the Preakness, after which he traveled north and employed pace-tracking tactics to record similarly easy scores in the Withers and Belmont Stakes in New York.
Though the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont had yet to be designated as a three-race series, Sir Barton’s extraordinary spring was widely applauded at the time and later recognized as the first sweep of the Triple Crown.
Sir Barton continued to compete with aplomb through the remainder of 1919 and as an older horse, eventually retiring with a dozen stakes wins to his credit. Though he was no match for superstar Man o’ War in a widely-publicized 1920 match race at Kenilworth Park, Sir Barton’s 4-year-old season was not without highlights; he set two track records at Saratoga while winning the Saratoga H. and Merchants and Citizens H.
Sir Barton’s delicate hooves gave him trouble throughout his career, and ongoing soundness issues prompted his retirement prior to a 5-year-old campaign. At stud, he was only a modest success and eventually wound up serving as a stallion for the U.S. Army Remount Service.
The passing of time has caused many of Sir Barton’s accomplishments to fade; even his 1957 induction into the Hall of Fame is a distant memory. But as the first horse to sweep the Triple Crown, Sir Barton lives on with his own special place in racing history.
Sir Barton Major Race Results
1 1/4 m
1 3/16 m
1 1/8 m
1 3/8 m
1 1/4 m
Havre De Grace
1 1/8 m
Kenilworth Park Gold Cup
1 1/4 m
Man o' War