American Eclipse (USA)

American Eclipse, by Alvan Fisher


American Eclipse, by Edward Troye





Sire Line

King Herod


American Eclipse ch c 1814 (Duroc - Millers Damsel, by Messenger*). Sire Line Herod. Family 3-a.

American Eclipse 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 3/4 inches.

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mare Lady Lightfoot, Flag of Truce and Heart of Oak, then distanced Lady Lightfoot in the second, the others having withdrawn.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 With the two mares withdrawn and Sir Walter sulking, Eclipse walked in to win the second heat and a purse of $1,000.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.

Another challenge 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 four-mile 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.

American Eclipse Duroc Diomed Florizel
Sister to Juno
Amanda Tayloe's Grey Diomed
Virginia Cade Mare
Millers Dasmel Messenger Mambrino
Sister to Hyacinth
Sister to Timidity Pot8os
Sister to Grey Robin
  Painting from life by Alvan Fisher of Dedham, Massachusetts; commissioned by Charles Henry Hall of New York, along with paintings of Diomed*, Sir Archy, Duroc, Mountaineer and Lady Lightfoot. Harrison notes that "These pictures were the first significant horse portraits produced in America."

Edward Troye painted American Eclipse along with his stablemate Henry at the Union Course in 1834. Mackay-Smith says that "From then on he painted many replicas of his portraits of the two stallions."