Sysonby

Sysonby was born in 1902 and still ranks 30th on the Top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred Champions of the 20th Century. Sysonby was sired by Melton, an Epson Derby winning horse, and foaled from the mare Optime. Ordinary folk might not remember the name Sysonby, but if he had lived longer than his four and a half years he would likely have been known by horse racing enthusiasts all over the world.

The existence of Sysonby, was envisioned by Marcus Daly but
unfortunately
he had passed away before he could see the foal that Optime carried.
Daly’s
stock, estate and the heavily pregnant mother, were moved to New York
for
auction. James R. Keene bought Optime from the auction, and sent her to
his
Castleton Stud. When Optime eventually gave birth to her foal, he
didn’t
impress anyone. All that looked upon Sysonby thought him to be too
small and
far too slow. No-one was able to recognize his potential, everyone
wrote him
off, except for James G Rowe Sr. Keene wanted Sysonby to be sent to
England,
to be sold, but Rowe saw his potential and his spirit, and quickly
devised a
plan to keep Sysonby from being sold. Rowe covered the colt in
blankets, on
the day of the move, and told Keene that Sysonby was far too sick to
travel,
and so Sysonby came to be under the expert training of James Rowe.

With Rowe as his trainer, there wasn’t an event that Sysonby
couldn’t
win. It did not matter what race or event, Sysonby, won them all.
During the
Futurity Stakes that was held in the United States, Sysonby was beaten
by
another horse legend, Artful. Even though Artful was a worthy
contender,
Rowe was disturbed by the third place and the performance of his horse.
He
finally managed to get to the truth, when Sysonby’s groom confessed
that he
had drugged the horse before the race, for a sizable amount of money.
If
Sysonby had not been drugged that day, it can be said that he might
have won
that race, and had a perfect winning record.

Unfortunately, Sysonby was not given the time he needed to further
his
career, or to really prove what he was capable of. He contracted the
fatal
disease, variola, which caused bleeding sores all over his body, and
led to
his death in June 1906. James R. Keene donated Sysonby’s remains to the
American Museum of Natural History in July, where he has remained, and
been
remembered as one of the greatest horses of all time.

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