Twitter icon
Facebook icon

Harry Bassett

harry bassett1.jpg

Harry Bassett (NMR Collection)
Harry Bassett
Induction Year: 
Woodburn Stud (A. J. Alexander)
Col. David McDaniel
Col. David McDaniel
Canary Bird
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


One of the greatest horses of the 1870s, Harry Bassett was a champion as a 2-year-old, an undefeated champion as a sophomore and a top handicapper at age 4. He won 14 races in a row and at one point won 17 of 18 starts.


Bred in Kentucky at Woodburn Stud during the era of A. J. Alexander, Harry Bassett was a son of the great Lexington out of the Albion mare Canary Bird. Harry Basset was sold for $315 as a yearling to Col. David McDaniel.


A rich golden chestnut with powerful forelegs, Harry Bassett made his career debut on July 16, 1870 at Saratoga. He stumbled badly at the start and almost unseated his jockey, but he recovered well enough to finish third in a nine-horse field. In his next start, Harry Bassett began his 14-race win streak by breaking his maiden in the Kentucky Stakes at one mile on Aug. 13 at Saratoga. He then bested 14 rivals in October in the Nursery Stakes at Jerome Park before closing out his season with a victory in the Supper Stakes at Pimlico.


Harry Bassett then won all nine of his races as a 3-year-old in 1871. His regular jockey was James Rowe, the future Hall of Fame trainer. Harry Bassett made his seasonal debut with a victory in the Belmont Stakes on June 10. He then won the Jersey Derby, Travers Stakes, Kenner Stakes, Champion Stakes, Reunion Stakes (via walkover) and Bowie Stakes. He also defeated older horses Preakness and Telegram for a $1,000 purse. The Bowie was contested as a series of four-mile heats, in which Harry Bassett easily defeated the 5-year-old Helmbold in straight heats.


As a 4-year-old, Harry Bassett won the 2¼-mile Westchester Cup at Jerome Park and then pushed his win streak to 14 with a victory in a $1,000 purse at two-mile heats. An estimated 30,000 showed up when Harry Bassett met the celebrated Longfellow in the Monmouth Cup on July 2 at New Jersey’s Long Branch course for 2½-mile contest. Longfellow got the best of Harry Bassett on this day, winning by an estimated 60 yards. Harry Bassett, whose win streak ended at 14, began to sulk during the race and Longfellow was never threatened. Based on his uncharacteristic performance, there were rumors that Harry Bassett had been drugged.


Harry Bassett returned to win a sweepstakes at Saratoga on July 13 and was given his shot at redemption three days later when he met Longfellow in the Saratoga Cup. Reported to now be in top condition, Harry Bassett covered the 2¼ miles in a record time of 3:59. Longfellow, however, twisted a plate in his left forefoot and limped home in what was his final career start. Three days later, Harry Bassett won again at Saratoga in a three-mile purse race. He added another win at the Spa on Aug. 21 by 20 lengths for his 17th win in his past 18 races.


By the fall of 1872, Harry Bassett was worn out. He added a couple more wins, but was unexpectedly beaten in the Maturity Stakes and lost a four-mile race to Monarchist at Jerome Park. Although he raced two more years, Harry Bassett was never in top form again. He won twice in eight starts as a 5-year-old and had one victory at age 6, defeating 15 opponents on Oct. 20, 1874 at Pimlico.


Retired to Col. McDaniel’s farm in New Jersey, Harry Bassett spent four seasons at stud before dying on Oct. 26, 1878 at age 10. Bred almost exclusively to mares owned by Col. McDaniel, Harry Bassett sired stakes winners King Nero, Lettina and George McCullough.