Roseben (KY)

Standing 17.3 hands at full maturity, Roseben was a giant on the racetrack and one of the most accomplished thoroughbreds of the early 1900s.

Roseben in 1913 (Museum Collection)





Ben Strome


Rose Leaf


Duke of Montrose


Mrs. T. J. Carson


John A. Drake
Davy C. Johnson
Lucien O. Appleby


Enoch Wishard
Charles Oxx
Frank D. Weir





Racing Record



Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1903 1 0 0 0 $0 $0
1904 9 3 2 1 $2405 $2,405
1905 29 19 5 2 $22085 $22,085
1906 22 11 5 3 $27870 $27,870
1907 14 7 4 2 $13995 $13,995
1908 26 9 5 4 $6340 $6,340
1909 10 3 4 0 $2415 $2,415


Standing 17.3 hands at full maturity, Roseben was a giant on the racetrack and one of the most accomplished thoroughbreds of the early 1900s.

Nicknamed “The Big Train,” Roseben was assigned 130 or more pounds 59 times and gave weight to all his rivals in 86 races. He carried 140 pounds or more in 29 races (winning 14 of them). He won with 144 pounds, 146 pounds, and on four occasions won with 147 pounds. As a 4-year-old, Roseben won the 1905 Manhattan Handicap under 147 pounds, conceding 42 pounds to the horse that finished second, five lengths behind. In the process, he set an American record for six furlongs of 1:11⅗. At 5, he carried 147 and conceded 60 pounds when setting a six-furlong record of 1:12⅘ at Aqueduct.

Roseben was the classic sprinter. Of his 111 races, only eight were at a mile or more. He set or equaled six track records with burdens up to 147 pounds and established American records for six and seven furlongs.

Foaled in 1901 at Dixiana near Lexington, Kentucky, Roseben broke his maiden as a 3-year-old on Oct. 11, 1904, at Morris Park. He was then sold at auction to Davy Johnson, whose winning bid was $3,800. Within 10 days following the sale, Roseben won a pair of overnighters and finished second in another.

As a 4-year-old, Roseben won his first stakes in the Toboggan. After finishing second in the Coney Island Handicap on June 16, 1905, Johnson put Roseben in the care of trainer Frank D. Weir. The program listing of owner and trainer varied from time to time, depending on Johnson’s temporal solvency; there were times when Johnson was listed as trainer and Lucien O. Appleby was listed as owner. Appleby, partner with Johnson in New York City and Saratoga Springs gambling casinos and many racing ventures, owned Silver Brook Stud in New Jersey, where he bred Henry of Navarre. Be that as it may, Weir trained Roseben to his greatest victories and Johnson owned the horse.

Weir saddled Roseben to five consecutive overnight victories and a win in the Bronx Highweight Handicap that October in which he carried 147 pounds and won by five lengths while giving Ancestor 50 pounds. Two days later, Roseben again carried 147 pounds in the Manhattan Handicap, conceding 42-49 pounds to his rivals. He won by an easy five lengths in 1:11⅗, a new American record for six furlongs around a turn. Four days later, he won a seven-furlong allowance by 10 lengths and set a Belmont Park record at 1:25⅕. At one point as a 4-year-old, Roseben won four races in nine days by a total of 40 lengths.

As a 5-year-old in 1906, Roseben began with the richest victory of his career, earning $7,850 by winning the Carter Handicap. He won the Sterling Stakes the following week and on May 19 set another Belmont record of 1:32⅕ for 7½ furlongs. Roseben won eight of his final 10 races that year, including the Fall Handicap.

Roseben won the Flight Stakes as a 6-year-old, equaling Brighton Beach’s six-furlong record of 1:12. In 1908, he won nine of 26 starts, carrying top weight in every start. In November, he was shipped to California and won three overnight races at Oakland.

As an 8-year-old in 1909, Roseben won his 52nd and final race on May 29 at Belmont. He was injured in his final start on July 1 and retired with a record of 52-25-12 from 111 starts at 16 different tracks and earnings of $75,110.

Johnson gave Roseben to New York Congressman James Wadsworth, who, after Roseben had recovered from his bowed tendon, gave him light work in harness to a sleigh at his Geneseo farm, then turned him over to his daughter as a pleasure horse. In 1917, Roseben was turned out on the Wadsworth farm in the Genesee Valley of Western New York. He died there the following year at the age of 17.  


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