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Chestnut Colt, 1872.
By Leamington - Sarong by Lexington

Darley Arabian Sire line: Whalebone Branch.
Family A- 9.

Leamington His sire, Leamington

The magic behind the Kentucky Derby has guaranteed immortality to Aristides, winner of the inaugural event in 1875. As famous as his name is, few people know how good the little red colt from McGrathiana really was. Although the early runnings of the Kentucky Derby are often played down as small-time regional events, Aristides was no small-time colt, and his record reveals that he was actually one of the best race horses of his era.

Bred in Kentucky by H. Price McGrath at McGrathiana Stud, now the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Farm on the Newtown Pike, north of Lexington, Aristides was from the first American crop sired by *Leamington. He was named in honor of Aristides Welch a friend of the breeder and who purchased *Leamington to stand at his Erdenheim stud in Pennsylvania a few years later. Racing for McGrath, Aristides won 3 races at 2, at Jerome Park and Baltimore, and placed in the Thespian Stakes to Sweetlips at Monmouth.

In his first of 9 starts at 3, Aristides finished behind the future champion Ten Broeck in the Phoenix Stakes at the muddy Kentucky Association track in Lexington. Aristides' next start was a new race introduced as the feature on opening day at a new track, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky which management had the audacity to name "the Kentucky Derby," hoping to emulate the famed Derby Stakes run at Epsom Race Course in England each June. Run at 12 furlongs, the Kentucky version was the same distance as the Epsom Derby, and the same as America's already recognized classic event, the Belmont Stakes.

McGrath intended to win the race with Aristides' stablemate Chesapeake, the champion of the previous season, but Aristides refused to be held and beat both Chesapeake and Ten Broeck. "The little red horse" followed up with wins in the Withers (1 mile), Jerome (2 miles), and Breckinridge Stakes, seconds in the Belmont Stakes (to Calvin), Ocean Hotel Stakes, and a third place in the Travers Stakes (to winner D'Artagnan).

As the leading money winner of the 1875 season with $15,700, he helped his sire, *Leamington, eclipse the 16-year reign of Lexington, who had led the Leading Sire list since 1861.

At 4, Aristides started just twice at Lexington, but won them both. In a sweepstakes for four-year-olds he beat Ten Broeck, that colt's only defeat during his championship year, going 2 miles, 1 furlong in 3:45 1/2, "the fastest race ever run at that distance." He also won a club purse at 2 and a half miles in 4:27 1/2, again a new record for the distance. Unraced at 5, Aristides was unplaced in his only start at 6 (12 furlongs, won by Ten Broeck), sore with splint trouble, and was retired with a record of 9 wins in 21 starts and $18,325.

A description from Turf, Field, and Farm noted that "Aristides is a chestnut colt with a star, and two white pasterns behind. He stands fifteen hands, one and three quarter inches high. He has a neat head and neck running into rather a straight shoulder, with great length, good barrel, excellent hips and stifles, sound feet and legs well under him."

Aristides returned home to stand at McGrathiana until McGrath's death forced a sale of the stud in September of 1881. At the dispersal auction, Chicagoan A. Hankins purchased the Kentucky Derby winner for $3,400 and moved him to his farm at Hebron, Indiana. Aristides passed on to J. Lucas Turner's Kinloch Stud, St. Louis, Missouri, and was later acquired by Robert Brookings, who took him to his farm, Oaklands, outside of St. Louis, Missouri, property which later became the site of the St. Louis Fair Grounds and 1904 World's Fair. Aristides died at Oaklands on June 21, 1893, at the age of 21 years.

Aristides was unfortunately, not a great sire. His only foal of importance was the Juvenile Stakes winner Henlopen (1880 out of Susan Ann by Lexington, and so a half-sister to the mighty racemare Thora.). But the legend of the little red horse who could is remembered every year on the first Saturday in May when three-year-olds go to the post for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Aristides was the first.

--Anne Peters

ARISTIDES, Chestnut Colt, 1872 - Family #A - 9.
br. 1853
br. 1841
Sir Hercules
blk. 1826
ch. 1833
Bob Booty
Mare by Pantaloon
ch. 1842
ch. 1825
br. 1837
Maid of Honor
ch. 1867
b. 1850
ch. 1833
Ball's Florizel mare
Alice Carneal
b. 1836
Greek Slave
b. 1855
ch. 1831
Margaret Hunter
b. 1847
Mary Hunt

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