Sysonby : Race Horse

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.