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Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown

by Jennifer S. Kelly foreword by Steve Haskin

Availablecloth$29.95 978-0-8131-7716-8
Horses in History
328 pages  Pubdate: 05/03/2019  6 x 9  46 b&w photos, 4 charts

He was always destined to be a champion. Royally bred, with English and American classic winners in his pedigree, Sir Barton shone from birth, dubbed the “king of them all.” But after a winless two-year-old season and a near-fatal illness, uncertainty clouded the start of Sir Barton’s three-year-old season. Then his surprise victory in America’s signature race, the Kentucky Derby, started him on the road to history, where he would go on to dominate the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, completing America’s first Triple Crown.

His wins inspired the ultimate chase for greatness in American horse racing and established an elite group that would grow to include legends like Citation, Secretariat, and American Pharoah. After a series of dynamic wins in 1920, popular opinion tapped Sir Barton as the best challenger for the wonder horse Man o’ War, and demanded a match race to settle once and for all which horse was the greatest. That duel would cement the reputation of one horse for all time and diminish the reputation of the other for the next century—until now.

Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown is the first book to focus on Sir Barton, his career, and his historic impact on horse racing. Author Jennifer S. Kelly uses extensive research and historical sources to examine this champion’s life and achievements. Kelly charts how Sir Barton broke track records, scored victories over other champions, and sparked the yearly pursuit of Triple Crown glory. This book reveals the legacy of Sir Barton and his seminal contributions to Thoroughbred racing one hundred years after his pioneering achievement.

Jennifer S. Kelly is a lifelong horse racing fan using her experience as a writing instructor and technical writer to chronicle and preserve the history of her favorite sport, especially the Triple Crown. Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown is her first book.

Over the years, the career of Sir Barton has been described, in part, within various books. Given that he was the first winner of what became revered as the Triple Crown, it certainly fills a void for this excellent book to have been devoted to his singular career. This is an important addition to the history of racing and to the tradition of excellent books on the sport. -- Edward L. Bowen, former editor in chief of The Blood-Horse and author of twenty books on Thoroughbred racing

More than a decade after Sir Barton swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont in 1919—an impressive winning streak in its own right—the American Triple Crown was finally born. But it was too late for Sir Barton. Lacking contemporaneous recognition for a feat that years later would command worldwide attention every spring, Sir Barton today is remembered as much for losing a famous match race to Man o’ War as for winning the first Triple Crown. Now, a century after Sir Barton’s sweep of the classics, Kelly sets the record straight about a horse history has largely forgotten. Matching meticulous research with imminently readable prose, Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown finally establishes the horse’s place in history. -- Milton C. Toby, author of Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case

It’s a most timely work, coming on the heels of two recent Triple Crown winners. Kelly has captured the enthusiasm of the racing world of that era and brought it to life, revealing the source of America’s fascination with the accomplishment while providing inspiration to racing fans everywhere. I would consider Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown required reading for all Thoroughbred fans, especially those with an interest in the history of the sport. -- John Perrotta, author of Racetracker: Life with Grifters and Gamblers

Jennifer Kelly’s Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown answers a key question: Who was the first Triple Crown winner? With terrific detail from Sir Barton’s Kentucky beginnings to his Wyoming end, Kelly gives us a thorough life of this overshadowed champion. Here, finally, is the book this remarkable athlete deserves. -- Eliza McGraw, author of Here Comes Exterminator! The Longshot Horse, the Great War, and the Making of an American Hero

Whether you discovered Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown in the 21st century with Justify and American Pharoah, or remember the 1970s golden age with Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed, or even recall our 1940s and 1930s heroes—try flying back to the start. Bringing Sir Barton out from the shadows, Jennifer Kelly restores him to a richly-deserved spotlight. -- Dorothy Ours, author of Man o’ War