Three Thoroughbred stars from the 19th century —racehorse Duke of Magenta, jockey Shelby “Pike” Barnes, and trainer Matthew Byrnes — have been elected 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 and will be enshrined along with the contemporary winners Aug. 12 at the Fasig-Tipton sale pavilion at 10:30 a.m. EDT. The ceremony, which is open to the public and free of charge, will be broadcast on HRTV.
Other inductees this year are trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Thoroughbreds Open Mind, Safely Kept, and Sky Beauty.
One of the greatest sons of the legendary sire Lexington, Duke of Magenta was foaled in 1875 at Woodburn Stud near Lexington. Owned by George L. Lorillard and trained by Robert Wyndham Walden, Duke of Magenta broke his maiden in the Flash Stakes at Saratoga in July 1877 and won four of seven starts as a 2-year-old, while finishing second in the other three.
In 1878 Duke of Magenta won 11 of 12 starts, including 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, which he won convincingly over favored Spartan, winner of the Jersey Derby.
The Travers was the first of eight consecutive wins for Duke of Magenta, who was sold at the conclusion of his 3-year-old season by Lorillard to his brother, Pierre Lorillard. The new owner sent him to race in England, but those plans never came to fruition. Duke of Magenta became ill on the voyage and was sent home.
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 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, far surpassing his closest pursuer, George Covington, who rode just 95 winners.
Eclipsing future Hall of Fame jockeys Jimmy McLaughlin (72 wins in 1888), Edward “Snapper” Garrison (71), and Isaac Murphy (37), Barnes also had the highest win percentage that year of 32.9%.
Barnes repeated as North America’s leading jockey in 1889 with 170 wins (25.8%) from 661 mounts. Barnes rode for several of the top owners of his day, including James Ben Ali Haggin, Marcus Daly, and Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin.
Among the major races won by Barnes were the Travers aboard Long Dance, Champagne Stakes with June Day, the Belmont Stakes and Brooklyn Derby with Burlington, the Alabama Stakes with champion Sinaloa II, and the Brooklyn Derby with Tenny.
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.
After ending his riding career because he could not make the weight, Byrnes turned to training. After serving under the tutelage of future Hall of Famer Jacob Pincus, Byrnes became the head trainer for Pierre Lorillard’ 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.
Parole won 12 of 24 starts as an 8-year-old that year and went on to post 15 wins and 18 other in-the-money finishes among 42 starts in 1882 and 1883.
After Lorillard stepped away from the sport in 1887, Byrnes began his association with James Ben Ali Haggin’s stable. Among the horses he trained for Haggin were future Hall of Famers Salvator and Firenze.
When Haggin got out of the Thoroughbred business in 1891, Byrnes went to work for Marcus Daly. For Daly, Byrnes trained top horses such as Tammany, Montana, Senator Grady, and Scottish Chieftain.
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 adviser.
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 Bowen is the chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Historic Review Committee, which 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 of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; and Gary West, Turf writer and columnist for the 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% of the committee members.