In 1905 at Castleton Stud in Kentucky, a mare named Pastorella gave birth to a little brown colt with three socks and white markings on his face. With an enlarged hock, owner James Keene didn’t think he would be worth much as a runner. How wrong he was.
Colin (By Commando out of Pastorella) was a national champion racehorse. Undefeated, he ran and won 15 starts, including the seven furlong Grand Union Hotel Stakes, the Champagne Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, and the Withers.
As a two year old, Colin raced in 12 starts, winning them all. In his first start, Colin broke his maiden going against 22 others at Belmont. He was then the 6/5 favorite. Only three days later, Colin raced in the National Stallion Stakes, breaking the record and setting a new one with a time of :58 flat for five furlongs. In his next race, the Eclipse Stakes, Colin raced with bucked shins but still won by a head over Beaucoup by a head. Despite bucked shins, a heavy 125 pounds weighed him down all the more.
Furthermore, he didn't extend himself to win the six furlong Great Trial Stakes at Sheepshead Bay by two lengths in 1:12 2/5, showing his dominance. Colin was named Horse of the Year in 1907.
Colin won the rest of his two year old starts with ease, making people think he may be the best two year old that ever lived. With him breaking records left and right, people began to not want their horses racing against Colin. But there was one owner, with one horse, who refused to back down, even after numerous defeats; those were August Belmont II and Fair Play.
Making his debut as a three year old, Colin ran in the Withers Stakes. Fair Play was also entered in this, making it a must-see event. Colin won, making it the fourth time he beat Fair Play. Despite coming up lame, he was entered in the Belmont Stakes a few days later. As he was racing with an injury described as two front bows, Colin went to post for the Belmont Stakes in a heavy rainstorm. Colin ran to the front, but then Fair Play made a strong bid and came within a head of the monster. It was said that Fair Play even passed Colin after the wire, but, alas, it was too late. Colin had won. Later on, fans and his owner alike would discover that he was in fact running lame the entire race, despite winning.
In his final start at 3, the Tidal Stakes, he covered the mile and a quarter in an easy 2:04 flat. As a four year old, Colin was shipped over to England. After pulling up lame in a workout, it was decided that he be retired.
At stud, he only sired 81 foals, and that was between going to several different studs, some on different continents. Of his offspring, On Watch is perhaps better known for, not his victories, but his unfortunate meeting with the historical legend Man O’ War.
As some may know, James Rowe, Colin’s trainer, was one of the best of his day, if not the best. On his epitaph, however, he only wanted three words; He trained Colin. In 1956, almost 25 years after Colin died, he was elected into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, a treasure much earned. In The Great Ones, Kent Hollingsworth wrote “Great horses have been beaten by mischance, racing luck, injury, or a lesser horse running the race of their lives. None of these, however, took Colin. He was unbeatable.”
Written by Madison Jackson