Kelso: The legendary American thoroughbred

A wonderfully lean and spirited American thoroughbred, Kelso is undeniably one of the greatest horses of the 20th century. Currently ranked at number four on the 100 Best Racing Horses list, Kelso’s sheer dominance on the racing track saw him beat many Hall of Famers in his illustrious racing career. In the racing tracks, Kelso represented everything that most Americans were looking for in their heroes and thus, ended up becoming a fan favorite in the early '60s. While he began his racing career as an underdog, Kelso would ultimately transform into a racing track virtuoso before ultimately claiming the throne. His reign as champion would last for more than 7 years.

Kelso's Profile

  • Place of birth: Kelso was born on Claiborne Farm in Paris, France

  • Date of birth/age of death: Kelso was born on 4th April 1957 and died at age of 26 years

  • Sex: Gelding

  • Owner: Bohemia Stable

  • Trainer: Bohemia Stable

  • Sire: Count Fleet

  • Dam: Made of Flight

  • Jockey/s: John Block, Dr. Lee John, Bill Hartack, Eddie Arcaro and Ismael Valenzuela

  • Record: Kelso participated in 69 races, winning 39 races,

  • Career earnings: Kelso amassed a whooping $1,977, 896 in the process setting a new winnings record.

Kelso’s Achievements

Kelso made his debut in the year 1959 during an ordinary maiden event winning the race. 10 days later, he made his second start finishing second. In his second season on the racing track, Kelso made his debut in a stakes race and managed to win 8 out of 9 races with 6 of these wins coming at the stakes. In 1964, Kelso set the world time record for dirt at the Jockey Club Gold. 11 days later, Kelso would once again set another world time record at the Baltimore Washington International Turf Cup.

Many fans loved Kelso for his courage and consistency, thus flocked in huge numbers to see Kelso in action. In his outstanding racing career, Kelso managed to win the Horse of the Year title an impressive 5 times. It’s also important to note that there is no other horse in history that has won more than three Horse of the Year titles. Apart from the Horse of the Year titles, Kelso also managed to set nine different track records. Despite all of Kelso's achievements on the racing track, Kelso never participated in Triple Crown races. By the end of his racing career, Kelso had set a new winnings record($1,977, 896).

Notable Remarks

Like most champions, Kelso was not only light on his feet but also had incredible balance. From 1960 to 1963, Kelso made 39 starts, finishing in the first 3 an impressive 36 times and winning 28 races. At the ages of 6 and 7, Kelso carried more than 130 pounds, which was quite impressive considering he had a narrow and small body frame. Kelso's reign as the king of the track resulted to a party in his honor at the Toot's Shor, in New York city.

In 1979, Kelso retired from racing and was inducted into the American Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Since he was a gelding, Kelso could not become a stud, and thus he started out his second career as a show jumper and a hunter. Kelso ended up perfoming at Madison Square garden and various horse shows. While enjoying his retirement, Kelso would often receive letters from fans directly to his private mailbox.

As a 26 year old, Kelso appeared in front of 32,000 people during the start of the golden jockey Cup together with two other thoroughbreds, John Henry and Forego. This would be Kelso final appearance as he succumbed the following day.