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George Barbee

George Barbee
George Barbee
Induction Year: 
1854, Norwich, England
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


George Barbee won the inaugural Preakness Stakes in 1873 aboard Survivor and added two more victories in what later became known as the second jewel of the American Triple Crown series. Barbee’s third win in the Preakness — in 1883 with Jacobus — tied the record set by Lloyd Hughes and was not surpassed for 68 years.


Barbee was born in Norfolk, England, in 1854. He began working with horses when he was apprenticed to trainer Tom Jennings, Sr., in the stables of Count de Lagrange as an exercise rider for 1865 English Triple Crown winner Gladiateur. Barbee came to the United States in 1872 specifically to ride for John F. Chamberlain at Monmouth Park. He won his first race that year at Monmouth with a horse named King Henry at odds of 50-1.


Barbee’s victory aboard Survivor in the first Preakness was by 10 lengths. The margin of victory in that race stood as a Preakness record until Smarty Jones won the 2004 edition by 11½ lengths. Barbee also won the Preakness aboard Shirley (1876) and Jacobus (1883). His three Preakness wins — a record he shared with Hughes — was not surpassed until Eddie Arcaro won the race for a fourth time in 1951.


Along with his success in the Preakness, Barbee won the 1874 Belmont Stakes aboard the English-bred colt Saxon, as well as the 1874 and 1875 Travers Stakes aboard Attila and D’Artagnan, respectively.


Tom Ochiltree was one of Barbee’s most significant mounts. He rode the colt to victory in the Saratoga Cup, Monmouth Cup, Centennial Cup, Westchester Cup and Baltimore Cup. Other notable horses ridden by Barbee include Parole, Duke of Magenta, Springbok, Eole and Uncas.


Barbee won a verified 136 races in America and many more in England. Other notable wins in the United States include the Bowie Stakes, Monmouth Oaks, Jockey Club Handicap (2), Champion Stakes, Autumn Cup, Buffalo Handicap, Champagne Stakes, United States Hotel Stakes (2), Flash Stakes and Kenner Stakes, among others. Barbee also won the Newmarket International Handicap in England.


Turf historian Walter Vosburgh described Barbee as “one of the most muscular and powerful jockeys that ever wore silk. He is built like a gladiator and would serve as a man model of the smaller type. He is a capital judge of pace, and a superb finisher.”


Toward the end of his riding career, Barbee became the trainer for J. E. Kelly’s stable. Barbee died in 1941 at the age of 89. He was buried near Belmont Park.