Jennifer S. Kelly

Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown

An illness at two nearly took Sir Barton’s life, and uncertainty colored the start of his career. Leading up to the Kentucky Derby, the three-year-old had shown promise but had not won a race. Yet in the spring of 1919, Sir Barton would set the racing world on fire by sweeping the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. These historic victories began the process that coalesced these three competitions into the pinnacle event in Thoroughbred horse racing, making Sir Barton America’s first Triple Crown winner. Sir Barton’s achievement, especially the money he won, would set the standard that turned these three races into the ultimate goal for any breeder, owner, trainer, and jockey. Within a year of this milestone, though, Sir Barton’s star would dim next to the juggernaut that was Man o’ War and the reputation of the first Triple Crown winner would fade as Man o’ War ascended to “Horse of the Century.” Kelly uses extensive research, historical sources, newspapers from that era, as well as previously unpublished photographs, to examine Sir Barton’s life and achievements. Kelly charts how the chestnut son of Star Shoot and Lady Sterling broke track records, scored victories over other established champion racehorses, and sparked the ultimate chase for greatness in American horse racing.

Jennifer S. Kelly

Jennifer S. Kelly is a self-proclaimed horse racing fan. She has previously served as a technical writer and English instructor, but now spends her time as a writer.

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