Uneven Performances

Eleven days after his win in the Potomac Handicap, Sir Barton was back on the track at Havre de Grace, this time for the Record Purse. This first edition of the race was a one-mile allowance dash, a chance for the champion to carry lighter weight, 110 pounds rather than the 132 he carried in the Potomac. As he was to start three days later in the Havre de Grace Handicap, no doubt trainer H.G. Bedwell intended the Record Purse to be a tune-up for that next start, but it was Sir Barton’s eighth start in 1919 and perhaps the wear was starting to show.

Starting from the three post, Sir Barton jumped out just behind Midnight Sun at the start, sitting just behind him by the quarter pole and a head in front of The Porter. As the field reached the half-mile pole, though, The Porter passed both Sir Barton and Midnight Sun to take the lead and pulled away, winning by five lengths. As the Daily Racing Form put it, Sir Barton was ‘hard ridden throughout, but could never overtake the winner” (9/25/1919).

His next start in the Havre de Grace Handicap on September 27th wasn’t much better. Sir Barton jumped out to the lead at the start, while his stablemate Cudgel and the legendary Exterminator hung toward the back of the pack. By the stretch, though, the Triple Crown winner began to tire and Cudgel and Exterminator passed him, with his stablemate flashing under the wire as the winner. It took a new track record, 1.50 for the mile and an eighth, to beat him, but, nevertheless, the champion had been beaten again.

Sir Barton wouldn’t get much of a layoff as racing in Maryland shifted from Havre de Grace to Laurel, with his next start coming one week later, in the Maryland Handicap at Laurel.


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