Colin (KY)

Of all the great horses trained by the legendary James Rowe, undefeated Colin was the one he admired the most, stating the only words he wanted written on his headstone were “He trained Colin.”

Colin with Joe Notter up at Belmont Park (Keeneland Library Cook Collection/Museum Collection)











James R. Keene


James R. Keene


James Rowe, Sr.





Racing Record



Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1907 12 12 0 0 $129205 $129,205
1908 3 3 0 0 $48905 $48,905


Of all the great horses trained by the legendary James Rowe, undefeated Colin was the one he admired the most, stating the only words he wanted written on his headstone were “He trained Colin.”

Foaled at James R. Keene’s Castleton Stud near Lexington, Kentucky, Colin was from the third crop of Commando out of the English stakes winner Pastorella. Colin was named after an old English poem concerning “Poor Colin.” It seemed appropriate considering Keene didn’t think much of the horse because of an enlarged hock.

Keene, however, had been wrong before. He was also unimpressed with Colin’s grandsire, Domino, a fiery competitor who exceeded expectations and proved to be one of the top racehorses of the 19th century en route to the Hall of Fame. Keene quickly changed his mind about Colin when none of his other horses could keep pace with him during speed trials.

Rowe brought Colin to the races for the first time May 29, 1907, at Belmont Park in a five-furlong cavalry charge down the old straight course against 23 maidens. Colin broke on top and won by two lengths without asking. Two days later, on the same course at the same distance, Colin set a track record of 58 seconds flat in winning the $5,000-added National Stallion Stakes by three lengths.

On June 5, Colin made his third start in a week and had his only serious challenge as a 2-year-old. Carrying 125 pounds in the $5,000-added Eclipse Stakes, Colin, according to a contemporary report, “ran a remarkable race, set the pace and was under pressure practically from the start, stood punishment with unflinching courage and outstayed (Harry Payne Whitney’s) Beaucoup in a rousing finish. Beaucoup is a good colt, challenged the winner early after going a furlong and ran stride for stride with him to the finish, but could not quite get up.”

Colin received a break of 24 days before returning in the $25,000-added Great Trial Stakes at Sheepshead Bay. Carrying 129 pounds, Colin won easily without being extended. He continued to roll, winning in succession the Brighton Junior Stakes, Saratoga Special, Grand Union Hotel Stakes, Futurity Stakes (setting a stakes record of 1:11⅕ for six furlongs), Flatbush Stakes (equaling the track record of 1:24⅘ for seven furlongs), Produce Stakes (defeating Fair Play by five lengths), Matron Stakes (again defeating Fair Play), and Champagne Stakes (establishing a new American record of 1:23 flat for seven furlongs).

After completing his 2-year-old season undefeated in 12 starts with earnings of $129,205, Colin was being hailed as “the best horse ever bred in America or raced here” by the Thoroughbred Record.  

Colin’s first start as a 3-year-old in 1908 was in the $10,000-added Withers Stakes at one mile, which he won easily. He came out of the race lame, however, and was declared out of the following week’s Belmont Stakes by various newspapers. There were various reports concerning the severity of Colin’s injury. They ranged from slight soreness to severely bowed tendons in both his forelimbs. Whatever his condition, it did not deter Keene and Rowe from entering the 1⅜-mile Belmont. In heavy rain and dense fog, Colin emerged with a five-length lead heading into the final quarter mile.

According to the race report, jockey Joe Notter “shook his whip at Colin and the colt came away quickly, but near the end he was eased up, Notter thinking the race was over, and this mistake almost cost him the race,” the chartcaller noted. “Fair Play ran a wonderfully game race and stood a long stretch drive in the most resolute fashion imaginable.”

Colin prevailed by a head. Although he was criticized for misjudging the finish line, Notter said he rode to Rowe’s instructions of using as little possible of Colin because of his suspicious tendons and the poor track conditions.

Later that June, Colin made his final career start, winning the 1¼-mile Tidal Stakes at Sheepshead Bay by two lengths for his 15th victory without a defeat.

Keene sent Colin to England to race in 1909 with trainer Sam Darling. Colin, however, suffered an injury and never raced again. He was retired to the Heath Stud at Newmarket. Colin sired 11 stakes winners, including On Watch and Jock, as well as Neddie, the grandsire of Hall of Famer Alsab.

Colin lived to the age of 27. He died in 1932 at Capt. Raymond Belmont’s Belray Farm near Middleburg, Virginia.

In “The Great Ones,” Kent Hollingsworth wrote, “Great horses have been beaten by mischance, racing luck, injury, and lesser horses running the race of their lives. None of these, however, took Colin. He was unbeatable.”


Horse of the Year — 1907
Horse of the Year — 1908

Triple Crown Highlights

Won the Belmont Stakes — 1908


Support the Museum, Become A Member
Become A Member