|Dam||Mare (1763) by Spectator|
|Country||Kingdom of Great Britain|
|Breeder||Honorable Richard Vernon of Newmarket|
|Owner||Sir Charles Bunbury, 6th Baronet|
|Epsom Derby (1780)|
|Diomed Stakes at Epsom Downs Racecourse|
|Last updated on August 24, 2007|
Diomed, foaled in 1777, was an English Thoroughbred race horse who won the inaugural running of the Derby in 1780. He was subsequently a successful sire in the United States.
A bright chestnut standing 15 hands 3 inches he was named after the Ancient Greek hero Diomedes. By the unraced Florizel out of the unraced Pastorella's Dam, aka Sister to Juno (both going back to the Godolphin Arabian, and Sister to Juno going back as well to the Darley Arabian), Diomed was bred by the Hon. Richard Vernon and owned by Sir Charles Bunbury, then trained by him at Hilton Hall. He was started 19 times, winning 11 races, finishing second in 4, and third in 3.
Of these eleven wins, ten were consecutive, which included the inaugural running of The Derby in 1780.During these early bright years of Diomed's life, he was considered by many to be the best colt seen in the Britain since Eclipse.
He was allowed to rest for a while, but when he was brought back to the races, he wasn't the same horse. Sometimes he would win, and sometimes he wouldn't win, and more often the latter than the former. His last win was a King's Plate in four mile heats carrying 168 pounds.
Sir Charles retired Diomed to stud. His fee was five guineas, or about $25. (In England Diomed sired Grey Diomed who went to Russia where he was a great success, and also Young Giantess, who foaled Sorcerer and Eleanor.) There were few takers, and for the next decade or so, Diomed's fee went down and down until, by the age of 21, it was two guineas. By then, there were virtually no takers, so the old stallion did nothing but graze alone.
Sir Charles offered Diomed for sale when the stallion was 21 years old. Colonel John Hoomes of Bowling Green, Virginia bought him for $250, and then shipped him to Virginia where he was returned to stud in 1798. Aside from importing bloodstock into the US, Hoomes also maintained his own racing stable and sizeable stud service in which his good friend, the leading national horseman of the time, John Tayloe III, was a partner. Although Hoomes and Tayloe's English agent wrote Hoomes a letter stating very clearly that Diomed was "...a tried and true bad foal-getter," and strongly recommending he not be put to stud, they were unswayed. Besides being personally impressed with the horse, a stallion of Tayloe's had also recently hurt himself, and Tayloe was in immediate need of a stud to replace him. Diomed went to work.
In those days, stallions did not stand in one place, but moved from stud farm to stud farm. Diomed lived like this until he was thirty-one years old and was active to his final days. His fee increased with his fame and his fame increased so quickly that Hoomes was able to sell a share in him for six times his purchase price soon after he landed on American soil.
Diomed, along with Medley, Shark, and Messenger, were the four most important stallions introduced into early American bloodstock. Diomed's offspring competed with many of the greatest horses in American turf history: Haynie's Maria, who beat every horse she met until she was nine, and about whom Andrew Jackson said, "...Haynie's Maria can beat anything in God's whole creation,"the undefeated Ball's Florizel (famous for his bad temper), Potomac, Duroc (sire of American Eclipse), and surely his greatest son of all, Sir Archy. Sir Archy had a huge influence on Thoroughbred history, siring the line which led to Timoleon, Boston, and Lexington. His descendants include Black Caviar, Phar Lap, Secretariat and American Pharoah. Furthermore, Diomed's influence has been felt through his sons regarding the development of the breeds American Quarter Horse (Sir Archy) and Standardbred (Duroc).
At Diomed's death at the age of 31, it was reported, "...there was as much mourning over his demise as there was at the death of George Washington."
The Byerley Turk, also spelled Byerly Turk, was the earliest of three stallions that were the founders of the modern Thoroughbred horse racing bloodstock.
Messenger was an English Thoroughbred stallion bred by Richard Grosvenor, and imported into the newly-formed United States of America just after the American Revolution.
Lexington was a United States Thoroughbred race horse who won six of his seven race starts. Perhaps his greatest fame came however as the most successful sire of the second half of the nineteenth century; he was the leading sire in North America 16 times, and broodmare sire of many notable racehorses.
Boston (1833–1850) was an outstanding Thoroughbred racehorse and a Leading sire in North America three times from 1851 to 1853. He started in about 45 races, winning 40, including 15 in succession. Boston was later one of the initial inductees into the Hall of Fame.
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For the Greek statesman of this name, see Timoleon.
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