American Eclipse : Race Horse

American Eclipse was a chestnut that stood 15.1 hands high. He had a strong build and was known for his courage, endurance and speed that had many saying that American Eclipse was the fastest horse in America. He was foaled on 25 May 1814 by the mare Miller’s Damsel and sired by Duroc, who was the son of the famous Diomed. American Eclipse only started his racing career at the age of four, having received minimal training before. In 1818, he was entered into his first race, which he won with ease. General Nathaniel Coles, who bred American Eclipse, sold him to Cornelius W. Van Ranst on 15 March 1819. Van Ranst raced American Eclipse during that year, and retired him to stud after the undefeated horse did not have to prove his worth anymore.

American Eclipse was known as the champion of the North, and after public demand and request, Van Ranst began training American Eclipse again. In his first event, this amazing horse won the first heat without even breaking a sweat and returned to win three more races. After the running success that American Eclipse had shown, the South felt that their pride had been injured, especially after he defeated Sir Charles, and challenged American Eclipse to represent the North in a race against the best horses of the South. The nine-year old victor would be up against Betsy Richards, the three-year old Henry and Childers. Henry was the obvious favorite as he was younger, lighter, raced more recently and won more races than American Eclipse had. American Eclipse lost the first heat to Henry, but everyone was angered as his loss was due to his jockey, William Crafts, who beat him continuously during the race, spurred him till his sides bled and even tore his testicle. American Eclipse was in so much pain and distress that he was throwing is tail in the air, but William Craft did not care about the welfare of his horse. Henry had run the fastest time ever recorded in America. William Craft was replaced by jockey Samuel Purdy, who had mounted American Eclipse before. The second heat was an entirely new race. Many had hoped that American Eclipse would fail due to the exhausting pace, but he was more experienced and remained on Henry’s flank. American Eclipse, under the gentle guidance of Purdy, won the second and the third heat. This proved once and for all, that American Eclipse was the better horse and remained undefeated. This challenge was the last for his career, and was permanently retired to stud.

American Eclipse was sold on a few times after he was put to stud, but spent his final days at the farm of Colonel Edward M Blackburn. He passed away on 10 July 1847, at the ripe old age of thirty-three. His most famous son he sired was Medoc, but he sired many race winners. American Eclipse was only inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1970, a hundred and twenty-three years after his death.


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