Emperor of Norfolk (CA)

Prior to the emergence of Swaps in the 1950s, Emperor of Norfolk was unquestionably the best racehorse to ever come out of California.

1888 Currier & Ives print of Emperor of Norfolk (Library of Congress)











Theodore Winters


Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin


John W. McClelland
Robert W. Thomas





Racing Record



Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1887 18 12 1 3 $36490 $36,490
1888 11 9 1 1 $35910 $35,910


Prior to the emergence of Swaps in the 1950s, Emperor of Norfolk was unquestionably the best racehorse to ever come out of California.

Bred by Theodore Winters at El Arroyo Stud, Emperor of Norfolk was by Lexington’s undefeated son, Norfolk, out of Marian, the eventual producer of nine stakes winners.

Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin purchased Emperor of Norfolk for $2,550. Baldwin made a reported $5 million in mining investments and another $10 million when a major supply of gold was found in one of his mines, hence the nickname. Baldwin also got lucky with Emperor of Norfolk.

Baldwin, one of the first California-based owners to have notable success shipping horses east, sent Emperor of Norfolk to Chicago for his career debut July 2, 1887. In a week’s time, Emperor of Norfolk won three stakes races: the Kenwood Stakes, Hyde Park Stakes, and Lake View Handicap.

Shipped to Saratoga, Emperor of Norfolk won four stakes in two weeks: the Saratoga, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. With seven victories from eight starts, Emperor of Norfolk was firmly established as the top 2-year-old in the land before he inexplicably finished eighth in the Select Stakes at Monmouth.

Ten days after his disappointment at Monmouth, Emperor of Norfolk rebounded and earned his biggest purse of the season, $6,800 in the Autumn Stakes at Sheepshead Bay. He also won the Algeria Stakes and Citizens Stakes that year to finish with a record of 12-1-3 from 18 starts and earnings of $36,490 before heading back to California to rest for the winter.

As good as he was at 2, Emperor of Norfolk was even better as a 3-year-old in 1888. As a sophomore, Emperor of Norfolk won the Brooklyn Derby, Bronx Stakes, Spuyten-Duyvel Stakes, Swift Stakes, American Derby, Drexel Stakes, and Sheridan Stakes.

Riding an eight-race win streak and with an overall record of 21-2-4 and earnings of $72,400, Emperor of Norfolk was retired in the middle of his 3-year-old campaign because of a bowed tendon.

Sent to Baldwin’s Rancho Santa Anita in California, Emperor of Norfolk sired several stakes winners, including Lady Diamond, Estaca, Berardello, Celoso, Magdelenas, Cruzados, Americano, and Rey del Carreres.

Emperor of Norfolk died Dec. 15, 1907, at the age of 22. The San Francisco Call reported: “Emperor of Norfolk, winner of the American Derby and one of the greatest race horses and sires in the history of the American Turf, died of old age this mornings at Lucky Baldwin’s Santa Anita ranch. The closing hours of the famous stallion’s life presented a unique spectacle. When word was sent out that the Emperor was dying, racing men who are at Santa Anita track gathered in numbers at the Baldwin stable, and the grand old horse passed away like a king surrounded by his court.”


Co-Champion 2-Year-Old Male — 1887
Co-Champion 3-Year-Old Male — 1888


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