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Firenze (NMR Collection)
Induction Year: 
Daniel Swigert
James Ben Ali Haggin
James Murphy, Matthew Byrnes
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


A standout distance runner who regularly defeated the top colts of her era, Firenze became the second American filly to earn $100,000 in her career. She twice lowered the clocking for the fastest 1½ miles on record and was a model of consistent excellence against top competition throughout her six-year career.


Bred at Daniel Swigert’s Elmendorf Farm near Lexington, Ky., Firenze was a small bay of only 15 hands. Purchased as a yearling for $2,600 by James Ben Ali Haggin, Firenze was a daughter of 1869 Travers Stakes winner Glenelg, America’s leading sire in 1884, 1886, 1887 and 1888, out of the Virgil mare Florida. Virgil was America’s leading sire in 1885.


Firenze made her career debut Aug. 2, 1886 at Saratoga, winning by three lengths. She won the Autumn Stakes and Nursery Stakes that year and finished her juvenile campaign with a record of 5-2-0 from eight starts and earnings of $12,825.


As a 3-year-old in 1887, Firenze won the Ladies’ Stakes, Gazelle Stakes, Mermaid Stakes, Monmouth Oaks, Free Handicap Stakes, West End Hotel Stakes and the 1¾-mile Jerome Stakes, defeating Hanover in the latter by three lengths. Firenze concluded her sophomore season with a mark of 8-4-2 from 14 starts and earnings of $23,230. After being trained by James Murphy at 2, Matthew Byrnes took over Firenze’s conditioning for the remainder of her career.


Firenze enjoyed her most successful campaign as a 4-year-old. Her wins included the Monmouth Cup, Champion Stakes (defeating Kingston), Freehold Stakes (defeating The Bard and setting the record for 1½ miles), Great Long Island Stakes, Monmouth Handicap, Battle Stakes, Average Stake, Manhattan Handicap, Harvest Handicap, Free Handicap Sweepstakes and Firenze Stakes. Firenze compiled a record of 13-6-3 from 22 starts and earnings of $34,836 in 1888.


At 5, Firenze won the Knickerbocker Handicap, Monmouth Cup, Firenze Stakes, Navesink Handicap, New York Handicap, Omnium Handicap and Freehold Stakes (via walkover). She finished 1889 with a ledger of 12-6-3 from 21 starts and earnings of $22,050.


Firenze continued to stand out as a 6-year-old in 1890. She lowered her record for 1½ miles to 2:33 in the Coney Island Cup with Isaac Murphy aboard. Her other wins included the Freehold Stakes, Free Handicap Sweepstakes, Twin City Handicap and New York Handicap and owned a record of 7-3-0 from 14 starts and earnings of $14,720 for the year.


As a 7-year-old in 1891, Firenze won two of three starts, including her second victory in the Champion stakes, before being retired with a career record of 47-21-9 from 82 starts and earnings of $112,471. Her earnings allowed her to join Miss Woodford as the only fillies at the time with more than $100,000 in career earnings. Firenze was regarded retrospectively as the champion 3-year-old filly of 1887 and the champion older mare in 1887, 1888, 1889 and 1890.


Firenze died March 27, 1902 at the age of 18 at Rancho Del Paso, Sacramento, Calif.