Colin is Still King, Belmont Stakes 1908

Jun 1st 2008 08:20 pm |

PART 1 OF 3 | Part 2 |Part 3

This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most dramatic Belmont Stakes of all time. In 1908, the undefeated Colin, whose racing career was declared over because of injury just three days before, made a miraculous recovery to win the Belmont. It was his 14th straight victory. Colin’s Ghost celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Belmont Stakes with a three part series.


On Thursday May 28, 1908 race fans were confronted with this story in the New York Evening World:

“The great Colin, champion of last year and destined to the same honors this year, has broken down. He will not start in the Belmont Stakes Saturday, and for that matter may never again be seen under colors.

“The great colt broke down after a sensational mile and a quarter in 2:05 2/5. This was his preparation for the $25,000 Belmont Stakes, which was believed to be at his mercy. The work was exceptionally fast and impressive, as the fractional times indicate. The quarter was made in :24, half :48 1/5, three quarters 1:13 3/5 and the mile in 1:38 2/5.

“He pulled up apparently all right, and not until he was back in his stable was it discovered that he has broken down badly in front

“Colin was considered by all turfmen the best horse of the decade and his loss was a great blow to Owner Keene, who really loved him, Colin was never defeated. He started twelve times as a two-year-old last season and won in the neighborhood of $150,000. He won the Withers last Saturday, his first three-year-old race, and added $10,000 to his winnings

“It is hard to estimate Colin’s value, but it is doubtful if Mr. Keene would have taken $200,000 for him.

“To thousands of racegoers, who have consistently followed Colin in all his races and cashed thirteen straight times, the disablement of the horse appears little short of calamity. To hundreds of thousands of occasional attendants at the races the breakdown of Colin seems a pitiful things, because everybody who ever saw the game thoroughbred on the track fell in love with him

“Colin is one of the greatest race horses in turf history. In point of races won consecutively in one season by a two-year-old he was excelled by one horse – the great Tremont. In point of money earned by a two-year-old in purses and stakes in one season Colon’s record is exceeded only by that of his grandshire, Domino.

“Colin goes into retirement with a clean record of victory. He won twelve races last season and earned for Mr. Keene $137,007.

“Last Saturday he won the Withers at Belmont Park, his thirteenth, and as it proved, his hoodoo race.

“Had he been able to stand the strain of this season he would have gone down in the records of the turf, in all probability, as the greatest thoroughbred that ever looked through a bridle

“Domino won nine straight races as a two-year-old in 1893, and earned $170,890. In that year also he ran a dead heat with Dobbins.

“In 1886 P.J. and M.F. Dwer’s Tremont won thirteen straight races as a two-year-old. Stakes were smaller in those days and his total earnings amounted to only $28,535.”

My Comment: Tremont won thirteen straight as a 2-year-old in a 10 week period. He was retired to stud after breaking down and never raced as a 3-year-old.

“Mr. Keene was all wrapped up in Colin, Domino is dead and Commando is dead, and Colin was depended upon to far overshadow the feats and records of his sire and grandsire. Of course, he is still available for the stud and may transmit his courage and speed to his get.

“The good and ill luck of James R. Keene in racing has been strangely intermingled. He had a world beater in Sysonsby, and just when it appeared that the good horse would succeed in proving himself the finest thoroughbred ever foaled he sickened and died of a skin disease.

“Superman, another great horse owned by Mr. Keene ended his racing career only a day or two ago and was sent to the stud only yesterday. He was the winner of last year’s Brooklyn Handicap.

“Mr. Rowe is considered one of the best trainers of race horses in the business. Under his care and handling Colin established his wonderful record. Nevertheless there are few racegoers who do not consider sending the horse a mile in 1.35 1/5 and a mile in a quarter in 2:05 2/5 in a trial was asking him to accomplish too much.”

MY COMMENT: Consider this, the fastest Kentucky Derby of the 20th century to this point was 2:06 1/5! It wasn’t until 1911 that a horse ran under 2:06.

Read this story in the New York Evening World at the Library of Congress

PART 2: Owner James Keene reacts to the breakdown of Colin

Filed in Belmont Park,Belmont Stakes,Belmont Stakes, 1908,Colin,Keene, James,Sysonsby

One Response to “Colin is Still King, Belmont Stakes 1908”

  1. Katie Harris Eubank says:

    Having lived in Lexington, KY and worked and ridden in the racing industry I came upon this page today as a result of seeing something on Antique’s Road Show of all things. A women brought in the 1908 Belmont Stakes trophy. To my dismay the appraiser told her nothing about the horse or that he was owned by Keene. She said her mother had purchased the trophy at an antique mall.
    How on earth does a piece like this end up tossed around? Is there not an effort to protect and keep these pieces together when they become unwanted. And the 1908 Belmont! What a win.
    I kept thinking to myself, “lady, that doesn’t belong to you”. The only thing she was excited about was that it was made by Tiffany & Co.