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Emperor of Norfolk

Emperor of Norfolk
Sire Norfolk
Dam Marian
Grandsire Lexington
Damsire Malcolm
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1885
Country United States
Color Bay
Breeder Theodore Winters
Owner "Lucky" Baldwin
Trainer John W. McClelland
Robert W. Thomas
Record 29: 21-2–4
Earnings $79,290
Emperor of Norfolk is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Marian by Norfolk. He was born around 1885 in the United States, and was bred by Theodore Winters.
Major wins
Hyde Park Stakes (1887)
Autumn Stakes (USA) (1887)
Kentucky Stakes (1887)
Citizen Stakes (1887)
Kenwood Sweepstakes (1887)
Troubador Stakes (1888)
Lawyer’s Stakes (1888)
American Derby (1888)
Brooklyn Derby (1888)
Swift Stakes (1888)
Drexel Cap (1888)
Sheridan Stakes (1888)
American Co-Champion 2-Year-Old Colt (1888)
American Co-Champion 3-Year-Old Colt (1888)
United States Horse of the Year (1888)
United States Racing Hall of Fame (1988)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on January 4, 2008

Emperor of Norfolk (1885–1907) was a champion American Thoroughbred racehorse. Because he was big with huge hindquarters and because of his stellar racing record, he was called the “California Wonder.”


Going to California

A racehorse born and bred in California was, in those days, a fairly unusual occurrence. But in the 1870s, when Joesph Cairn Simpson (founder of California's first all-sports newspaper, (“Breeder and Sportsman”) migrated west, he brought horses with him. One of these was the filly Marian. To finance his newspaper, he sold Marian to Theodore Winters who owned California’s best stallion, Norfolk by America’s greatest sire, Lexington. Norfolk had won the honor of American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse and had retired undefeated. Winters bought him for $15,001, one dollar more than that paid for Lexington himself.

With the purchase of Marian, Winters now owned the West’s best stallion as well as its greatest broodmare. Marian, mated to Norfolk, both either living at Winters second stud farm, the Rancho Del Rio near Sacramento on the banks of the Sacramento River or on his Yolo County, California spread, produced star after star of the racing world: Duchess of Norfolk, Prince of Norfolk, The Czar, El Rio Rey, Rey Del Rey, and Emperor of Norfolk. (After Norfolk retired, Marian produced another star: Yo Tambien by the turf champion, Joe Hooker.)

It is generally agreed that Emperor of Norfolk was the most important horse born in California until Swaps came along sixty seven years later.

Ever lucky Lucky Baldwin

Winters sold Marian's yearling foal to “Lucky” Baldwin for $2,525. From then until his death, Emperor of Norfolk was Baldwin’s favorite horse.

He raced him 18 times at the age of two. In modern racing this is unheard of. In Baldwin’s time, it was grueling but normal. At two, he ran in Chicago, Illinois winning three races in eight days. On to Saratoga, New York, and in the month of August alone, he won four more races. Then down to Jerome Park Racetrack where he took two races in four days. He also placed in the Prospect Cap and came third in the Quickstep Stakes.

At three, he started only eleven times, winning 9 races, 8 of them consecutively. He placed in one race, and showed in another. Of the nine he won, two were the prestigious Brooklyn Stakes (now called the Dwyer Stakes) and the American Derby under the great African American jockey, Isaac Burns Murphy.

Emperor of Norfolk had run against the best horses in American, had won at distances of between five and nine furlongs, and earning, for the time, a huge sum of money.

He retired lame after his last win in the Sheridan Stakes (the injury occurring during an exercise run) and Baldwin shipped him back to his Rancho Santa Anita to begin his stud career.

At stud

Emperor of Norfolk turned out to be as great a sire as his own sire, Norfolk, producing stake winner after stake winner, but his best son (who possessed a confusion of names until sent to England) was Americus. Americus won a great many stakes races, but it was as a sire he made his name, primarily through his daughter, Americus Girl. Out of Americus Girl came the “flying filly,” Mumtaz Mahal, and through her: Mahmoud, Nasrullah, Royal Charger, and Tudor Minstrel.

Many of today's horse racing greats go back to Emperor of Norfolk through Mumtaz Mahal via Americus.

The Finish Line

Emperor of Norfolk died on December 15, 1907, the day after Baldwin opened his Santa Anita race track, at the age of 22. When word spread he was dying, great numbers of racing men came to the Baldwin stable to mourn his passing.

He was buried at the stable under a large Maltese cross, Baldwin's racing symbol. Later, Baldwin's three other American Derby winners, Volante, Silver Cloud, and Rey El Santa Anita, joined him. Emperor of Norfolk, as well as Baldwin’s other three great winners, were later transferred to the paddock garden of the modern Santa Anita Park.

The California Wonder was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1988.


  • Robinson, William, "The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America"


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