Hamburg (KY)

Hall of Fame jockey Tod Sloan, who rode hundreds of good horses in America and Europe, stated flatly, “Hamburg was the only great horse I ever rode.”

Hamburg (Keeneland Library Cook Collection/Museum Collection)







Lady Reel




C. J. Enright


John E. Madden
Marcus Daly
William C. Whitney
Harry Payne Whitney


John E. Madden
William Lakeland





Racing Record



Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1897 16 12 3 1 $38595 $38,595
1898 5 4 0 1 $21785 $21,785


Hall of Fame jockey Tod Sloan, who rode hundreds of good horses in America and Europe, stated flatly, “Hamburg was the only great horse I ever rode.”

Bred by C. J. Enright, Hamburg was a son of Hanover out of the Fellowcraft mare Lady Reel. Hall of Fame trainer John Madden, one of the most astute horsemen in the sport’s history, purchased Hamburg as a weanling for $1,200. It proved to be one of Madden’s many brilliant decisions.

As a 2-year-old in 1897, Hamburg won 12 of 16 starts and never finished worse than third, earning $38,595 for Madden, who also served as trainer. Hamburg’s wins included the Double Event, Flash, and Autumn stakes under 129 pounds; the Electric Handicap with 132; the Congress Hall Handicap under 134; and the Great Eastern Handicap with an impost of 135 pounds, burdens never before carried by a 2-year-old. There was great discussion at the time that Hamburg was arguably the greatest 2-year-old the American turf had ever seen.

Madden then sold Hamburg for a record $40,001 to Marcus Daly. The purchase price was the highest ever, surpassing the $40,000 Leonard Jerome paid for the mighty Kentucky in the 1860s. Madden used the money he made from Hamburg to be a Kentucky farm, which is aptly named Hamburg Place, where Madden established a breeding empire.

In 1898, Hamburg began his 3-year-old campaign by finishing third in the Belmont Stakes for new trainer Billy Lakeland. Hamburg then easily won the Spring Special and Swift Stakes before meeting Kentucky Derby winner Plaudit (who was trained by Madden) in the Lawrence Realization. With Sloan in the saddle, Hamburg was never threatened and won by two lengths.

Following the Lawrence Realization, Hamburg delivered a virtuoso performance in the 2¼-mile Brighton Cup against good older horses. Sloan sent Hamburg to the lead early and cruised to an easy win, defeating Ogden, the 1896 Futurity winner, and Brooklyn Handicap winner Howard Mann. Hamburg was retired after the Brighton Cup victory with a career mark of 16-3-2 from 21 starts and earnings of $60,380. Hamburg was sent to Daly’s Bitter Root Stud in Montana.

In 1900, Daly died and Hamburg was sold for $60,000 in the dispersal. The winning bid was made by none other than Madden on the account of William Collins Whitney. Hamburg then stood at La Belle Stud in Kentucky until Whitney died in 1904. The owner’s son, Harry Payne Whitney, then paid $70,000 for Hamburg and stood him at Brookdale Stud in New Jersey.

Hamburg was an immediate success as a stallion and became the leading sire in America in 1905. Hamburg’s notable offspring included Hall of Fame filly Artful, Futurity winner Hamburg Belle, Travers winner Dandelion, and Belmont winner Burgomaster, as well as standouts Borrow, Pegasus, and Frizette. Overall, Hamburg sired 27 stakes winners.

Hamburg died in 1915 at age 20.


Champion 2-Year-Old Colt — 1897
Horse of the Year — 1898
Champion 3-Year-Old Colt — 1898


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