Sir Archy was the champion runner of
his day, but more importantly, is considered to be the first great
Thoroughbred stallion bred in America. Originally named
"Robert Burns", the big bay colt was bred by Virginians Col.
John Tayloe III and close friend Capt. Archibald Randolph. He
was truely Thoroughbred, since both of his parents were imported from
England. His sire was the Derby winner *Diomed, imported to
America in his old age and dying in 1808, when his greatest son Sir
Archy was just beginning to run. His dam was the mare
*Castianira, which Tayloe had purchased originally for his stud at
Mount Airy in 1799. Tayloe bred *Castianira on shares with
Randolph, and Sir Archy, her second foal, was born at Randolph's
Ben Lomond Plantation along the James River.
Tayloe changed the colt's name to
"Sir Archie" in honor of his partner, but both sold their
interests in him to Ralph Wormeley during the colt's second year.
Sir Archy started for the first time in the fall of his third year in
Washington D. C., but was distanced by Bright Phoebus, forced to run
to avoid paying a forfeit when still recovering from a bout with
distemper. In his next start, at the Fairfield course in
Richmond, Sir Archy was distanced in the first two heats, but salvaged
the final heat, running third to True Blue. This effort caught
the eye of the winner's owner the legendary Col. W. R. Johnson, who
purchased the colt for $1,500.
As a four-year-old, Sir Archy earned
his reputation as the best four-mile heat horse in the country,
winning four of five such races including an important match with
Blank. In the first heat, Sir Archy won in 7:53, at the time, the
fastest time for four miles ever run south of the James River.
Following that race, he was purchased for $5,000 by Gen. Davie, the
governor of North Carolina, and was sent to stud.
Bertrand. Image permission of the National Museum of Racing.
Gohanna. Image permission of the National Museum of Racing.
Sir Henry. Image permission of the National Museum of Racing.
|| As a stallion, Sir Archy earned his
title "The Godolphin of America", since his influence as a
sire and grandsire was as sweeping as the Godolphin Arabian's had been
in England in the middle part of the 1700's. In a long and
prosperous stud career, Sir Archy sired many of the finest runners of
the period, including Timoleon, Bertrand, Sir Charles, Sumpter,
Stockholder, Lady Lightfoot, Reality, Flirtilla, Janet, and seemingly
endless others. Bertrand and Sir Charles both became national leading
sires in their own turn.
Four-mile heat racing remained popular
in America up until the 1850's, while quarter mile dash racing also
had its popular quarters. A four-mile horse himself, Sir Archy sired
all sorts of runners, with speed and stamina alike, for both forums of
competition. In fact, one of his progeny, a horse named
Copperbottom, became one of the founding sires of the American Quarter
The next generation became even more
important, as inbreeding to Sir Archy and his sire *Diomed became the
fashion of the day. The great race mare Bonnets o' Blue was a
prime example, being by Sir Archy's son Sir Charles, and out of Sir
Archy's daughter Reality. (Bonnet's o' Blue became the dam of
the great American racemare Fashion.) The great runner and sire
Lexington, by Boston by Timoleon, carried two close strains of Sir
Sir Archy was a dark bay, the only
white being his right hind pastern, and as a three year old measured
over just 16 hands high.
According to Randolph (of Roanoke), he
was "A horse of commanding size, with great power and substance.
He is eminently superior in all those points indispensable to the turf
horse, and mainly contributory to strength and action. His
shoulder, the most material part of the horse, is strikingly
distinguished, being very deep, fairly mounting up to the top of the
withers, and obliquely inclined to the hips. His girth is full
and deep, back short and strong, thighs and arms long and muscular,
his bone good. His front appearance is fine and commanding-his
head and neck are well formed, the latter rising well out of his
withers. Take Sir Archy upon the whole, and he has more size,
power and substance than we often see combined in the full bred
Sir Archy spent most of his stud career
at the Mowfield Planatation of William Amis, located in Northampton
County, North Carolina. In 1829, at the age of 24, he demanded a
stud fee of $100. He was retired from stud duty in 1831 at the
age of 26, and died at the age of 28, on June 7, 1833, notably, the
same day as Sir Charles, one of his greatest sons.