American Eclipse, by
American Eclipse, by
ch c 1814 (Duroc - Millers Damsel, by Messenger*). Sire Line
was bred by General Nathaniel Coles of Queens County, Long Island,
New York. He was described as a light chestnut standing 15.1
hands with a star on his forehead and a white near hind
foot, with much bone and muscle. Said to be long and low
with a moderate length neck his cannon bone measured 7 and
He started training at three, and after nine weeks of
work was put in a trial and found to be "very superior,"
after which he was turned out until March of the following year.
In his maiden race at Newmarket he easily defeated Black-Eyed
Susan and Sea Gull in 3-mile heats for a $300 purse. At five he
was purchased by Cornelius W Van Ranst and won his next race,
of four-mile heats over Little John, Bond's Eclipse and James Fitzjames,
and a similar race in October, when he again beat Little John.
He went to stud
at six, and at seven bred 87 mares. Mr Van Ranst, in an effort
to support the newly opened Union Course, put him back in training
and entered him in the featured event for a $500 purse of four-mile
heats. He won the first heat, defeating the favoured mare Lady
Lightfoot, Flag of Truce and Heart of Oak, then distanced Lady
Lightfoot in the second, the others having withdrawn. The next
spring the now eight year olld American Eclipse easily beat Sir
Walter, one of the best northern horses, for a $700 purse of 4-mile
heats. Again in October he faced Sir Walter and two mares, Duchess
of Marlborough and Slow and Easy, defeating them in the first
heat. With the two mares withdrawn and Sir Walter sulking, Eclipse
walked in to win the second heat and a purse of $1,000.
At this time
James J Harrsion proposed a match race between Eclipse and his
own celebrated Virginia horse Sir Charles, a son of Sir Archy.
The match between the champions of the north and south was to
occur in Washington, D C in November at four-mile heats for $5,000
a side. However, a few days before the match Sir Charles injured
a tendon and although his owner paid the forfeit he was still
willing to race a single heat for $1,500 a side. Following Eclipse
for the first three miles Sir Charles started his run but broke
down leaving Eclipse to canter in.
against Eclipse was issued immediately by the south, which would
produce an opponent in May of 1823 for $20,000 a side with a $3,000
forfeit to be run over the Union Course. Despite the fact that
Eclipse would be nine years old, the challenge was accepted. The
south prepared five horses: the full siblings John Richards and
Betsey Richards, Childers, Washington and Henry, eventually settling
on Henry (or Sir Henry, ch c 1819 by Sir Archy) at post time. This
match turned into the largest sporting event hitherto seen, with
an estimated 60,000 people in attendance. American Eclipse was
assigned 126 pounds, his four year old rival 108 pounds. Henry
won the first heat and became the only horse to ever beat Eclipse.
By all accounts Eclipse was badly ridden, being viciously whipped
and spurred, yet courageously coming on to within a length of
Henry whose time of 7.37 was the best yet seen in America for
four miles. Eclipse's jockey was replaced for the next heat which
Eclipse won by a length in a time of 7.49. Henry's jockey was
replaced for the third heat, but although Henry got his nose close
to Eclipse's haunches at one point, he then fell back allowing
Eclipse to win by 3 lengths.
A challenge for
a return match was issued, but politely declined. American Eclipse
retired to stud. He was sold at public auction to Walter Livingstone
for $8,050 and stood in New York, there siring his best son Medoc
(ch c 1829). He was sent to Virginia in 1823 and then to Kentucky
in 1837. His notable offspring numbered among them Ariel (gr
f 1822, won 42 of 57 starts, including 18 at four-mile heats), Lance
(b c 1821), Black Maria (bl f 1826, won 11 races at three and
heats), Ten Broeck (ch c 1838), Monmouth Eclipse (ch c 1826),
Bay Maria (b f 1831)and Gano (b c 1835).
Last owned by Jilson Yates,
American Eclipse died in Shelby County, Kentucky, in August of
1847 at the age of thirty-three.
|Sister to Juno
|Tayloe's Grey Diomed
|Virginia Cade Mare
|Sister to Hyacinth
|Sister to Grey Robin