Arts and Letters (VA)

Bred and owned by Paul Mellon and trained by Hall of Famer Elliott Burch, Arts and Letters enjoyed a magical season in 1969, winning several of the most prestigious races in America en route to Horse of the Year honors. 

An oil painting of Arts and Letters by Susan L. Crawford, 1971 (Museum Collection)
Inducted

1994

Foaled

1966

Sire

Ribot

Dam

All Beautiful

Damsire

Battlefield

Breeder

Paul Mellon

Owner

Rokeby Stable

Trainer

J. Elliott Burch

Career

1968-1970

Earnings

$632,404

Racing Record

23

Starts

Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1968 6 2 1 0 $18898 $18,898
1969 14 8 5 1 $555604 $555,604
1970 3 1 0 0 $57902 $57,902

Biography

Bred and owned by Paul Mellon and trained by Hall of Famer Elliott Burch, Arts and Letters enjoyed a magical season in 1969, winning several of the most prestigious races in America en route to Horse of the Year honors.

Although he finished second to Majestic Prince in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes that year, Arts and Letters avenged those defeats by thwarting his rival’s Triple Crown bid by winning the Belmont Stakes by 5½ lengths.

By the time of his Belmont victory, Arts and Letters was a thriving. Prior to the Belmont, Arts and Letters easily won the Metropolitan Handicap and was rounding into top form. Later that summer, at Saratoga, Arts and Letters crushed the field by 10 lengths in the Jim Dandy Stakes before winning the 100th running of the Travers Stakes by 6½ lengths.

Following the Travers, Arts and Letters defeated top handicapper Nodouble by two lengths in the Woodward Stakes and stretched his win streak to six with a 14-length romp in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Arts and Letters finished 1969 with a record of 8-5-1 from 13 starts and earnings of $555,604. Along with Horse of the Year, he was named Champion 3-Year-Old Male and Daily Racing Form selected him as Champion Handicap Male. 

Arts and Letters won the Grey Lag Handicap as a 4-year-old, but pulled a suspensory ligament in his left front ankle during the Californian Handicap. The injury ended his career.

Retired to Greentree Stud, Arts and Letters sired Preakness Stakes winner Codex and Winter’s Tale, a two-time winner of the Suburban and Nassau County handicaps.

Arts and Letters died at Greentree in 1998 at the age of 32. He is buried on the property, which is now part of Gainesway Farm.

Achievements

Horse of the Year — 1969
Champion 3-Year-Old Male — 1969
Champion Handicap Male (Daily Racing Form) — 1969

Triple Crown Highlights

Won the Belmont Stakes — 1969

Media

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