Three of Thoroughbred racing’s brightest stars from the final quarter of the 19th century — the famed racehorse Duke of Magenta, champion jockey Shelby “Pike” Barnes, and celebrated trainer Matthew Byrnes — have been selected for the sport’s highest honor with their election to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Duke of Magenta, Barnes, and Byrnes were elected to the Hall of Fame through the Museum’s Historic Review process. They will be enshrined along with contemporary inductees trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Thoroughbreds Open Mind, Safely Kept, and Sky Beauty on Aug. 12 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony is open to the public and is free of charge. It will also be broadcast on HRTV.
One of the greatest sons of the legendary sire Lexington, Duke of Magenta was foaled in 1875 at the famed Woodburn Stud near Lexington, Ky. Owned by George L. Lorillard and trained by Robert Wyndham Walden, Duke of Magenta was a light bay standing 16 hands. He broke his maiden in the Flash Stakes at Saratoga in July of 1877 and won four of seven starts as a 2-year-old, while finishing second in the other three. Foreshadowing the greatness to come, Duke of Magenta closed out his 1877 season with three consecutive wins.
In 1878, Duke of Magenta enjoyed one of the most prolific 3-year-old campaigns in the history of the American turf, winning 11 of 12 starts, including such marquee events as the Preakness, Withers, Belmont, Travers, Kenner, and Jerome. His only loss on the year occurred when he finished third in the Jersey Derby when it was reported he spiked a fever. Three weeks after his defeat in the Jersey Derby, Duke of Magenta appeared at Saratoga for the Travers. The favorite in the race was Spartan, the winner of the Jersey Derby, but Duke of Magenta was back in top form and won convincingly. The Travers marked the beginning of an eight-race win streak for Duke of Magenta.
Duke of Magenta was sold at the conclusion of his 3-year-old season by Lorillard to his brother, Pierre Lorillard, who sent him to race in England. Those plans, however, never came to fruition. Duke of Magenta became ill on the voyage and was sent home. He never raced again.
Duke of Magenta finished his career with a record of 15-3-1 from 19 starts and earnings of $45,412. Since he accomplished the feat in 1878, only Hall of Famers Man o’ War and Native Dancer have won the Preakness, Withers, Belmont, and Travers.
Competing in the ancient era when African-American jockeys ruled the sport of Thoroughbred racing during the late 19th century, Shelby “Pike” Barnes was widely recognized by turf experts to be among the elite in his profession.
Born in Beaver Dam, Ky., in 1871, Barnes became a star as a teenager. In 1888, Barnes led all North American riders with 206 wins, becoming the first jockey to top 200 wins in a year. His 1888 campaign is even more remarkable considering his closest pursuer, George Covington, rode just 95 winners. Adding further context to Barnes’ exceptional year were the comparative win totals of future Hall of Fame jockeys Jimmy McLaughlin (72), Edward “Snapper” Garrison (71) and Isaac Murphy (37). Barnes also had the highest win percentage that year, booting home the winner on 32.9 percent of his mounts.
Barnes secured his status as an elite rider with his star-making performance in the inaugural Futurity in 1888. Staged by the Coney Island Jockey Club at Sheepshead Bay, the Futurity was the richest sporting event to date in America, paying an unheard-of $40,900 to the winner. Aboard the favorite Proctor Knott, Barnes battled future Hall of Famer Salvator and jockey Tony Hamilton in the six-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds. Barnes and Proctor Knott dug in during the stretch and secured a half-length victory in one of the most notable races of the 19th century.
Barnes repeated as North America’s leading jockey in 1889 with 170 wins (25.8 percent) from 661 mounts. That year, Barnes won the Travers Stakes aboard Long Dance and the Champagne Stakes with June Day.
In 1890, Barnes piloted Burlington to victories in the Belmont Stakes and the Brooklyn Derby. That summer, he also captured the Alabama Stakes with champion Sinaloa II. He added another major score in 1891 when he rode the standout Tenny to victory in the Brooklyn Derby.
Barnes rode for several of the top owners of his day, including James Ben Ali Haggin, Marcus Daly and Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin. Other major victories for Barnes included the First Special (1891), Flash Stakes (1888), Great Western Stakes (1888), Hyde Park Stakes (1888), Latonia Derby (1888), Latonia Oaks (1889), Kenner Stakes (1889), Second Special (1890), Sheridan Stakes (1890), St. Leger Stakes (1888), and the United States Hotel Stakes (1890).
Barnes began to fade from the scene after 1891 and died at age 37 in Columbus, Ohio, in 1908. In a letter to the National Museum of Racing, Hall of Fame trainer Fred Burlew ranked Barnes as one of the top five African-American jockeys in the history of the sport.
Byrnes began his association with Thoroughbred racing as an exercise rider before becoming an accomplished jockey. However, it was his skill as a conditioner of racehorses that garnered Byrnes lasting acclaim.
After his days as a rider ended because he had trouble making weight, Byrnes began training under the tutelage of future Hall of Famer Jacob Pincus. Byrnes was then hired by famed sportsman Pierre Lorillard to become the head trainer for the Master of Rancocas stable. Byrnes quickly made a name for himself as a trainer when he took over the conditioning of future Hall of Famer Parole in 1881. As an 8-year-old in 1881, Parole won 12 of 24 starts for Byrnes and followed that with 15 wins and 18 other in-the-money finishes among 42 starts in 1882 and 1883.
In 1885, Byrnes won the Suburban Handicap with Pontiac. Byrnes also won the Suburban in 1890 with future Hall of Famer Salvator and in 1892 with Montana. In 1887, Lorillard stepped away from the sport and Byrnes began his association with James Ben Ali Haggin’s powerful stable. Byrnes guided Haggin’s mighty Salvator to a spectacular career mark of 16-1-1 from 19 starts. While under the care of Byrnes, Salvator set American speed records for one mile and 1¼ miles as a 4-year-old in 1890.
At the same time he was training Salvator, Byrnes also enjoyed tremendous success with the great mare Firenze, another future Hall of Famer. From 1886 through 1891, Firenze won 47 races for Byrnes and was in the money 77 times in 82 starts. Firenze regularly defeated males, including wins over Hall of Famer Hanover at three distances, and two wins over Hall of Famer Kingston, the Thoroughbred that won the most races in the history of the sport.
When Haggin got out of the Thoroughbred business in 1891, Byrnes went to work for Marcus Daly. For Daly, Byrnes trained a number of quality horses, including Tammany, Montana, Senator Grady, and Scottish Chieftain, the 1897 Belmont Stakes winner. Daly died in 1900 and Byrnes called it a career as a trainer. Byrnes then bought a farm opposite Monmouth Park in New Jersey. A few years later, Byrnes sold the farm and moved to California to work as a bloodstock advisor. In his later years, Byrnes returned to New Jersey and often attended the races at Saratoga. He died in Asbury Park, N.J., in 1933 at the age of 80.
Edward L. Bowen is the chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Historic Review Committee. The 12-member group considered more than 25 candidates.
The committee members are: Bowen, Museum historian Allan Carter; Jane Goldstein, turf writer and retired Santa Anita Park publicist; Ken Grayson, Museum trustee; Russ Harris, retired handicapper and turf writer; Jay Hovdey, executive columnist, Daily Racing Form; Bill Mooney, freelance writer and author; William Nack, freelance writer and author; Mary Simon, columnist, Thoroughbred Times; Michael Veitch, turf writer and columnist, The Saratogian; John T. von Stade, Chairman, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; and Gary West, turf writer and columnist, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The committee reviewed and discussed the credentials of the nominees and voted to select a finalist in each category: horse, jockey, and trainer. To be elected, the finalist in each category was required to receive approval from at least 75 percent of the committee members.