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Sir Archy

Sir Archy

Engraving of Sir Archy from Frank Forester's Horse and Horsemanship of the United States volume one published 1857
Sire Diomed GB
Dam Castianira GB
Grandsire Florizel GB
Damsire Rockingham GB
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1805
Country United States (Virginia)
Color Dark Bay
Breeder Capt. Archibald Randolph
Col. John Tayloe III

Ralph Wormely VI
Col. William R. Johnson at 3

Gen. William R. Davie, at stud

Thomas Larkin

Arthur Taylor
Record 7 Starts: 4-1-0
Earnings Unknown
Sir Archy is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Castianira GB by Diomed GB. He was born around 1805 in the United States (Virginia), and was bred by Capt. Archibald Randolph
Col. John Tayloe III.
Major wins
Post Stakes (1809)
Jockey Club Purse, Fairfield (1809)
Jockey Club Purse, Petersburg (1809)
Match race with the splendid four-miler, Blank (1809)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1955)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on December 19, 2007

Sir Archy (or Archy, Archie, or Sir Archie; b. 1805, d. June 7, 1833) was an American thoroughbred racehorse. Born and bred in Virginia by two natives, Capt. Archibald Randolph and Col. John Tayloe III, his sire was the Epsom Derby winner Diomed, who had been imported from England at an advanced age; his dam, a blind mare called Castianira (out of Rockingham by Highflyer), had been purchased in England by Tayloe for his own Airy Farm, but was bred on shares with his friend Randolph. Sir Archy, Castianira's second foal, was born on Randolph’s Ben Lomond Plantation on the James River. The colt, a dark bay with a small patch of white on his right hind pastern, was originally named "Robert Burns"; Tayloe changed the colt’s name in honor of Randolph.[1][2][3]


At the track

When Sir Archy was two, Tayloe and Randolph sold him to Ralph Wormely IV[4] for $400 and an unknown filly. When Wormely later decided to quit the world of horse racing, Sir Srchy was offered for sale, but there were no takers. Still owned by Wormely, Sir Archy made his first start in the Washington Sweepstakes late in his third year, at which he stood at 16 hands. Though Sir Archy had at the time yet to recover from a case of distemper, Wormely ran him rather than pay a forfeit fee. Still not well, Sir Archy made his second start a month later at the Fiarfield Sweepstakes in Richmond, Virginia. Though he won only the third heat and finished third overall to Colonel William Ransom Johnson's colt True Blue, Johnson promptly bought Sir Archy for $1,500.

Now in the hands of Johnson’s trainer, Arthur Taylor, Sir Archy at four became one of the greatest runners of his day, excelling in four mile heats. His racing days ended when Johnson made a standing bet of $10,000 that Sir Archy could beat any horse in America; there were no takers. Sir Archy then became what most experts consider to be the first great Thoroughbred stallion bred in America. Offered $5,000 by General Davie, then Governor of North Carolina, who was deeply impressed by his match race with Blank, Johnson sold him away for reasons that remain unclear. (In later days, Johnson was very generous about his decision, calling Sir Archy the best horse to have raced in America, and Sir Archy’s daughter, Reality, the best filly.)

In 1827, the Washington DC Jockey Club and the Maryland Jockey Club announced that only “certain” horses were eligible to run in their races. Though the fine points of the announcement were complex, it effectively barred all horses sired by Sir Archy, whose offspring were so successful that few, if any, horses not sired by Sir Archy bothered to race. Both Jockey Clubs admitted they were worried about their continued existence.

At stud

Sir Archy went to stud, sometimes under lease for Johnson, but eventually, from 1818 on, in Northampton County, North Carolina on the Mowfield (aka Moorfied) plantation of William Amis. Even at the age of 24, his stud fee was one hundred dollars. Amis's son estimated that during the years he stood at Mowfield Sir Archy earned $76,000 in stud fees.

Diomed’s greatest son became known as the Godolphin of America, meaning that his influence on the American Thoroughbred was as important as Godolphin’s influence on European breeding. Like the “Blind Hero of Woodburn,” Lexington (who was his great grandson), Sir Archy became one of the greatest of America's Foundation Sires. All through the 1820’s the very best horses were descendants of Sir Archy.

Sir Archy’s progeny

As a Sire

Siring at the very least 31 known horse racing champions, including heavily influencing the American Quarter Horse through his son, Copperbottom, the following is a list of some of his most notable offspring.

  • Timoloen (b. 1814, considered the best race horse of his day)
  • Bertrand (b. 1826, some call him Sir Archy’s best; became a national leading sire in his own right)
  • Sir Charles (b. 1816, the national leading sire in 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, & 1836. )
  • Sumpter (b. 1818, won eight consecutive races when races were grueling heats, became a broodmare sire of great note.)
  • Stockholder (b. 1819, the most popular sire in Tennessee in his day. His daughters were extremely successful producers.)
  • Lady Lightfoot (b. 1812, records are incomplete, but she may have won 30 to 40 races, racing through age 11. In her first try, she ran the fastest heats in Maryland up to her time. As a broodmare she produced 8 foals in 9 years. One, Black Maria, was considered better than her dam.)
  • Reality (b. 1813, a filly rated as good as, or better than, Sir Archy or Boston by William R. Johnson. He owned all three at one point or another.)
  • Henry (b. 1819, a very good racehorse, a popular sire, and the only horse who ever defeated American Eclipse in any race.)
  • Sally Hope (b. 1822, won 22 of her 27 races, the last 18 in succession.)
  • Flirtilla (b. 1828, an influential carrier of the blood of Sir Archy.)

As a Grandsire and Further

Into the second generation, Sir Archy’s influence became even more pronounced. This was partly due to the fact that inbreeding to Sir Archy and to his sire, Diomed, became quite the rage. What this meant was that Sir Archy was bred back to his daughters and his sire’s daughters. This kind of inbreeding, at least in Sir Archy’s case, worked.

  • Bonnets o' Blue (by Sir Charles out of Reality; Bonnets o’ Blue was the dam of Fashion.)


At the age of 26, Sir Archy ended his stud career, living for two more years before dying on June 7, 1833. This was the same day that one of his greatest sons, Sir Charles, also died.

Sir Archy was one of the first handful of horses inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1955.

Sir Archy is buried, along with his groom and dog, at Ben Lomond Farm in Rockcastle, Va. A historic marker, erected by the Goochland County (Va.) Historical Society, marks the grave to this day.


  1. Blanchard, Elizabeth Amis Cameron; Wellman, Manly Wade (1958). Lasker, Edward; Lasker, Cynthia. eds. The Life and Times of Sir Archie: The Story of America's Greatest Thoroughbred, 1805-1833. University of North Carolina Press. http://books.google.com/books?id=tJLrGAAACAAJ. 
  2. "The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America" by William H.P. Roberton, Bonanza Books, New York, 1964
  3. http://northampton.sgarner349.com/sirarchy.html
  4. http://www.spiletta.com/UTHOF/sirarchy.html



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