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1995.2.1358 Keeneland armed.jpg

Armed (Keeneland-Morgan)
Induction Year: 
Calumet Farm
Calumet Farm
Benjamin A. Jones
Bull Lea
Chance Shot
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


Armed was not an instant sensation as a racehorse. A son of Bull Lea out of the Chance Shot mare Armful, Armed was small, headstrong and averse to being trained. Bred and owned by Calumet Farm, Armed did not make it to the races as a 2-year-old and was gelded in an attempt to make him easier to handle.


When he finally became cooperative, Armed was considered a second-string runner in the mighty Calumet stable and did not get the opportunity to demonstrate his full potential until his 4-year-old season.


When he arrived at the track as a 3-year-old in 1944, Armed won his debut by eight lengths at Hialeah Park. Four days later, he won again, this time by three lengths. Jockey Conn McCreary told trainer Ben Jones he thought Armed could win the Kentucky Derby.


“Let’s go with this one in the Derby, Ben; he’ll win it,” McCreary said.


Jones, however, wasn’t looking for a Derby horse at the time. Instead of giving Armed a shot at the Derby, Jones won the race with Pensive while Armed sat on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Armed developed a bit of an ankle injury and won only once more from five starts the remainder of the year.


After losing his 4-year-old debut, Armed began to show his talent, winning six consecutive races, including a division of the Sheridan Handicap by eight lengths. After his win streak, Armed finished second in four straight races before fashioning a four-race win streak to cap his season.


Armed won the Washington Handicap at Laurel Park with top weight then took a pair of overnight races in preparation for the 1945 Pimlico Special, which drew an outstanding field including Stymie, Gallorette, Polynesian, First Fiddle, War Date and Pot o’ Luck. Armed proved to be the best, winning by four lengths to establish himself as one of the sport’s top handicappers.


In 1946, Armed enhanced his reputation by winning the Suburban, Widener, Washington Park, Dixie and Philadelphia handicaps, among others. He set a track record for nine furlongs in winning the Double Event Stakes at Tropical Park and a 10-furlong track record in the Washington Park Handicap.


Armed enjoyed his best season as a 6-year-old in 1947, winning nine stakes and setting four track records. He carried 130 pounds or more 10 times that year and Turf and Sport Digest recognized him as Horse of the Year. With his victory in the Sysonby Mile, Armed’s earnings stood at $761,500, a new world record. Stymie, however, passed the record later in the year. Armed also defeated Triple Crown winner Assault that year in a match race at Belmont Park.


After 1947, Armed was no longer the same horse. Although he raced three more years, Armed never won another stakes race, compiling a record of 6-7-7 from 24 starts from 1948 through 1950. When he was retired to Calumet Farm in 1950, Armed owned a career mark of 41-20-10 from 81 starts and was the sport’s all-time earnings leader among geldings at $817,475.


Armed lived the remainder of his life at Calumet Farm. He died May 5, 1964 at the age of 23.