In 1919, Sir Barton won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. He bears the honor of the first "Triple-Crown" winner, even though that title was not-yet available when he was racing. This image depicts Sir Barton and Johnny Luftus, his jockey, at the 1919 Preakness. Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
- The first "Triple Crown" winner was Sir Barton. He accomplished that feat in 1919, the year following the end of World War I (and before the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont were collectively called America's "Triple Crown").
- Citation - who won the Triple Crown in 1948 - was the first horse to win $1 million (on the 14th of July, 1951).
- John Henry was the biggest money-winning horse of all time when he retired (in 1985) while Curlin (a Kentucky-born thoroughbred) has replaced Cigar (grandson of Seattle Slew) as North America's current largest income-earner.
- Seattle Slew was the first undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown. He accomplished that feat in 1977. The next year, he beat Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, in the Marlboro Cup.
- The greatest money-winning filly, Lady’s Secret, was the daughter of Triple Crown champion Secretariat (also known as "Big Red," the horse owned by Penny Chenery who not only won the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont - in 1973 - but also had the largest equine heart ever reported by any veterinarian).
- One of the saddest horse stories - ever - involves Shergar, the champion thoroughbred who was born in Ireland. In 1981, he won the Epsom Derby by ten lengths - still a record. Two years later, he was kidnapped ... and never seen again. At the 25th anniversary of his disappearance, an investigative journalist learned the brutal truth about Shergar's fate. The story is not for the faint-of-heart.
- Bulle Rock was the first Thoroughbred in America’s Thirteen Colonies. He was shipped from Britain in 1730.
We are exceedingly grateful to Leonard D. Smith, DVM (of Hendrix, Oklahoma) and his son, Wayne Smith, for providing us with facts for this story and for previously unpublished photographs of Seabiscuit and Ridgewood Ranch. Thanks, especially, to Gregory Kuehn (of Albuquerque, New Mexico), one of the most knowledgable Seabiscuit authorities available, for his expert help with this story.