American Eclipse by Alvan Fisher
American Eclipse was the namesake of English champion and foundation sire, Eclipse. Both horses were unbeaten, an amazing feat during the years when 3 to 4 mile heat races were common.
American Eclipse's career began at age 4. Running on the historic Newmarket Course, he easily won his first race. Sold to Cornelius Van Ranst at 5 for $3,000, he won two 4-mile heat races and then was retired to stud.
American Eclipse was brought out of retirement to run in the opening race on Long Island's Union Course, America's first railed, dirt track. His winning streak continued at 7 and 8 and did not go unnoticed in the South. Col. William R. Johnson, a southerner and owner of America's largest racing stable, proposed the first of the great North vs. South matches and announced a $20,000 purse to the winner. American Eclipse's rival would be the 4-year-old Sir Henry, a son of Sir Archy.
On the appointed day in May 1823, a crowd of 60,000 gathered to watch the match between American Eclipse and his younger rival. After losing the first heat, American Eclipse was given a substitute rider, Samuel Purdy, who went on to win the match after two more heats.
Following his eighth consecutive victory, American Eclipse went to stud, first in Virginia and then in Kentucky. Before his death in 1847 American Eclipse sired numerous stakes winners.
American Eclipse was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1970.
American Eclipse with Samuel Purdy up