The legendary Colin, unbeaten during his fifteen race career, is revered as one of the greatest horses ever bred
in America. He was the last champion to retire undefeated until the champion mare Personal Ensign retired unbeaten eighty years later, following her win over Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Sired by 1901 Horse of the Year Commando, Colin was out of Pastorella, an English bred daughter of Springfield who had won the Zetland and Ascot Biennial Stakes when she was two. Springfield was a Champion Stakes winner and the sire of Epsom Derby winner Sainfoin, who in turn sired Rock Sand.
Colin was bred and raced by James R. Keene, a self made millionaire known as the "Silver Fox of Wall Street" and owner of such horses as Sysonby, Commando, Domino, Peter Pan, Sweep, Ballot, and Delhi. Colin had an enlarged hock when he was foaled, and Keene didn't believe he would train well. He quickly changed his opinion when the colt demonstrated his class in speed trials.
Colin's trainer was James Rowe, Sr., who had began working with horses as an apprentice rider for Colonel David McDaniel at the age of ten. At the age of fifteen, he rode Joe Daniels to victory in the 1872 Belmont Stakes, and he won the race again the next year aboard Springbok. When he switched to training, Rowe worked for the Dwyer Brothers, winning races with Bramble, Luke Blackburn, Hindoo, and Miss Woodford. He won the 1881 Kentucky Derby with Hindoo and the 1915 Kentucky Derby with H.P. Whitney's filly Regret. He took the Preakness with Broomspun in 1921, and won the Belmont Stakes many times. Working for Keene, he handled Sysonby, Commando, and Peter Pan, and won six runnings of the Belmont Stakes, a race he had already won with the Dwyer Brothers horses twice. Yet for all his success, James Rowe, Sr. wanted only a short epitaph:
"He trained Colin."
The horse was named in part of his trainer, who shared a last name with Nicholas Rowe, the English poet laureate responsible for the poem "Poor Colin."
On May 29, 1907, Colin outclassed a field of twenty-two to break his maiden at Belmont Park, and then broke the track record in winning the National Stallion Stakes, running the five furlongs in :58 even. Racing with bucked shins, Colin carried 125 pounds in the Eclipse Stakes and beat H.P. Whitney's lightly weighted Beaucoup by a head. For the rest of the season, Colin was not only unbeaten, but unbeatable.
He didn't even need to extend himself to win the six furlong Great Trial Stakes at Sheepshead Bay by two lengths in 1:12 2/5. He shaved a fifth of a second off his time when he went to Gravesend and won the Brighton Junior Stakes, and Colin's time for six furlongs dropped to an even 1:12 when he won the Saratoga Special.
The Grand Union Hotel Stakes failed to require exertion, and Colin cantered to a two length victory in a leisurely 1:13. Asked to carry 125 pounds in the Futurity at Sheepshead Bay, the son of Commando lowered his time for six furlongs to 1:11 1/5.
He won the seven furlong Flatbush Stakes by three lengths in 1:24 4/5, then won by five lengths in the Produce Stakes. Colin carried 129 pounds to a four length victory in the Matron Stakes, giving seven pounds to Fair Play and still winning in a canter.
In the final race of the season, Colin won the Champagne Stakes by six lengths, covering the seven furlongs in the record time of 1:23. He handed defeat to Fair Play on three occasions, and ended the season with twelve victories and $129,205 in earnings. Colin was named both champion of his division and Horse of the Year.
Colin made his first start at the age of three in the Withers Stakes, beating Fair Play for the fourth time with King James running third. He came out of the race lame, but was entered in the Belmont Stakes anyhow. Racing with an injury described as two front bows, or simply general soreness, depending on the source, Colin went to post for the Belmont Stakes in a heavy rainstorm. He led Fair Play by six lengths as the two came out of the fog, and Fair Play made a strong bid, getting within a head of Colin, and then passing him after the wire. But the game Colin had held on long enough, and the Belmont Stakes was his.
In a final race at three, Colin scored an easy win in the Tidal Stakes, covering the mile and a quarter in 2:04, after James Keene boasted that he could fill the grandstand at Sheepshead Bay even without the gambling that had recently been outlawed in New York.
Colin was sent to England as a four-year-old, but pulled up lame in a workout and was retired to stud, then later returned home. Colin sired only 81 foals, eleven of which were stakes winners. On Watch, from his first American crop, was more famous for having the misfortune of meeting up with Man o' War than for any of his accomplishments. Colin's daughters included Herd Girl, the dam of the champion mare Late Date; Slow and Easy, the dam of 1949 Broodmare of the Year Easy Lass, and Garden Rose, dam of the good handicapper Rosemont. Despite his low production rate, Colin's male line survives today, with his notable descendants including Alsab, Ack Ack, Youth, Teenoso, Broad Brush, and Concern.
Colin passed away in 1932, at Capt. Raymond Belmont's Belray Farm in Virginia. The great horse became a Hall of Fame member in 1956.
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