Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner and had to face many obstacles to reach this prestigious standing.
He was 0 for 6 as a two-year old and was entered into the Kentucky Derby as a three-year old to serve as a rabbit for his stable mate Billy Kelly. Sir Barton led the entire Derby and came home five lengths over his stable mate. He won the Preakness Stakes in the same fashion four days later and went on to win the Belmont Stakes.
Owner: Commander J.K.L. Ross
Trainer: H.G. Bedwell
Jockey: Johnny Loftus
About the same time that Sir Barton became the first Triple Crown winner Man O’ War emerged. Man O’ War was unbeatable and won the Preakness, Belmont, Dwyer, and Withers Stakes. Man O’ War was not put into the Kentucky Derby because his owner, Samuel Riddle, felt Churchill Downs was too far to the west.
As a four-year old Sir Barton chronically had sore feet and an ugly temperament began to get the better of him. Sir Barton alternated from brilliant to ordinary because of his sore feet.
With all the impressive racing done by both Sir Barton and Man O’ War a match race was called for. The race took place on October 12, 1920 at Keniworth Park in Canada. The race was no contest; Sir Barton’s feet were bothering him, his jockey, Earl Sande, was so nervous that he was replaced an hour before the race by Frank Keogh. Man O’ War won the 1 1/4 mile race by seven lengths in track record time.
Sir Barton retired to stud at the end of the 1920 season but only enjoyed moderate success at stud. He then went on to a Wyoming ranch. Sir Barton died in 1937.