Sir Barton was the first horse to win the American Triple Crown; he accomplished this feat in 1919, while he was three. He was sired by leading stud Star Shoot. His grandsire was the 1893 English Triple Crown champion Isinglass. Sir Barton was a thoroughbred chestnut colt. He was bred in Kentucky by John E. Madden and Vivian A. Gooch at Hamburg Place Farm, Madden raced him in his two year old season. But he lost all six races he was entered in.
Then in 1918 Madden sold him to Canadian Naval Commander John Kenneth Levinson Ross for $10,000. Ross handed him over to trainer Harvey Guy Bedwell and jockey Johnny Loftus. Bedwell says Sir Barton was a nightmare to train because he would only extend himself against other horses. So, every morning he would bring a relay of horses to train Sir Barton. He was also had an unpleasant disposition, disliking people, horses, and other animals.
At three he made his season debut in 1919 as a maiden in the Kentucky Derby. He was supposed to act as a rabbit for favored stable mate Billy Kelly. A rabbit is a speed horse that sets the pace in the beginning to tire out the opponents so another horse can come from behind and win. But Billy Kelly could not catch up as Sir Barton led the field of 12 horses from start to finish, and won by five lengths. Only four days later he won the Preakness Stakes and again led all the way. Shortly after he easily won the Belmont Stakes and set the American record for the fastest mile and 3/8ths race, which he did in 2:17 2/5. That win set him as the first horse to win the American Triple Crown.
In 1920 during his four year old season he only won five out of the twelve races he was entered in. But he set the world record for the 1 3/16 miles on dirt, winning the August 18, 1920 edition of the Merchants and Citizens Handicap. But one race many people remember is the October 12th race at Kenilworth Park in Windsor, Ontario. He lost by seven lengths because he was bothered by sore hooves on Kenilworths hard track. After that year he retired to stud.
Then in 1922 Ross sold Sir Barton to B. B. Jones who stood him at his Audley Farm in Berryville, Virginia until 1933. On October 30, 1937 he died of colic and was buried on a ranch in the foothills of the Laramie Mountains with a simple sandstone headstone. But later his remains were moved to Washington Park in Douglas, Wyoming where a memorial was erected in his honor.
Sir Barton was named 1919 Horse of the Year among many other honors. He was also inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957. The Blood-Horse magazine ranked him number 49 in their top 100 USA thoroughbred champions of the 20 th century. In December 2006 a sculpture of Sir Barton was unveiled in front of Audley Farms Stallion Barn. And in Lexington, Kentucky he has a street named in his honor.