Colin was one of America's greatest Thoroughbred racehorses. He retired undefeated after 15 starts and as a sire appears in the pedigree of the champion racehorse, Alsab.
He was a brown colt with three white socks, a stripe and snip on his face, foaled in 1905 at Castleton Stud in Kentucky, owned by London born financier, James R. Keene. Colin was from the third crop of foals by the stakes-winning and leading sire, Commando (by Domino), who had been bred by James Keene. Colin's dam was the English stakes-winning Pastorella (GB), by Springfield.
Colin was trained by Hall of Fame inductee, James G. Rowe, Sr. Rowe had handled many top quality horses in his long career, including Sysonby, Hindoo (who was never unplaced), and the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby, Regret. Rowe and his horses, Miss Woodford, Luke Blackburn, Whisk Broom II, Commando, Peter Pan were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
James Keene, was not keen on Colin, noting the disfiguring curb, or thoroughpin, meaning that Colin had an enlarged hock. He'd been just as disdainful of an earlier purchase: Colin's grandsire Domino, (another eventual Horse of the Year in 1893 and Hall of Famer), but his son, Foxwell Keene, went ahead and bought Domino anyway.
A friend of Keene's, De Courcey Forbes, always named the Castleton foals. Colin was for "Poor Colin", a pastoral poem by the English poet laureate Nicholas Rowe, thus neatly connecting the name of Colin's dam and the name of his trainer, a trainer who took a keen interest in his horses. A hands-on trainer, Rowe was famous for the personal attention he paid to his horses. He literally traveled in the same railroad car with them. Aware that Colin's swollen hock would give him trouble, Rowe attended to it diligently with massages and cold water baths.
Consistently rated as one of the best horses in American racing history, and a real celebrity with both fans and horsemen, Colin started fifteen times in his two-year career and never lost a race. Twelve of these races were when he was still a two-year-old. In an age that valued stamina and maturity, Colin was still viewed with awe by the horsemen of his time. Sportswriter Abram Hewitt said, "The blood surges, and the pulses quicken at the very sight of such Olympians on the track." Hewitt had "listened to old-time horsemen talk about Colin with an other-world expression on their faces." Colin was voted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year twice: in 1907 and 1908. He was also America's Champion Three-Year-Old Male in 1908.
- Won his maiden race against 23 rivals at Belmont Park on May 29, 1907 as the 6/5 favorite.
- National Stallion Stakes (racing just three days later, he broke the track record)
- Eclipse Stakes (raced four days later with bucked shins and carrying 125 pounds in the pouring rain)
- Great Trial Stakes (given 24 days rest, carrying 129 pounds, won without extending himself)
- Brighton Junior Stakes (beginning to be talked of as the "best two-year-old in history. His swollen hock was beginning to recede, but he began coughing.)
- Saratoga Special Stakes (still coughing, and not looking well, Colin defeated the previously unbeaten Uncle. His jockey, the eventual Hall of Fame inductee, Walter Miller, said, "I could have gone away at any time. Even if loafing along, he can get into action quicker than any horse I have ever seen when it becomes necessary. Seems to me he can go right from a loafing gallop into his full racing speed in one stride, "but he" never wants to do any more than he has to.")
- Grand Union Hotel Stakes (four days later, without exertion and without a cough. Said the "The Thoroughbred Record," "Colin has become as much of a public idol at Saratoga as he was at Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay and his defeat would have been looked upon as a public calamity.")
- Futurity Stakes (50,000 showed up at Sheepshead Bay to watch. Colin was "the absolute master of the situation," winning in stakes-record time of 1:11? for the straight six furlongs.)
- Flatbush Stakes (although promised time off and a rest, Colin raced one week later, winning by three lengths)
- Brighton Produce (about this and the Matron Stakes, "The Thoroughbred Record" exclaimed, "The more one sees of him, the more firm is the conviction that he is the best horse ever bred in America or ever raced here.")
- Matron Stakes (Colt's Division, defeated Fair Play)
- Champagne Stakes (won by six lengths, beating the only filly to show up, Stamina. Colin was mobbed in the paddock by fans. "The Thoroughbred Record" was overcome by his dominance. He also established a new American record of 1:23 for the distance on a straightaway.)
- Withers Stakes - with regular jockey Walter Miller increasingly having difficulty making weight, a new jockey and another eventual Hall of Famer, Joe Notter, rode him to victory.
- Belmont Stakes. (Not timed because of heavy rain; Colin ran lame in the fog over the objections of Rowe, and thanks to the keenness of Keene. Again, he defeated a very game Fair Play.)
- Tidal Stakes (a political statement by Keene, claiming Colin would fill the stands even though New York had recently banned gambling. They came out to see him, though not exactly filling the stands.)
Colin's last victory came on June 20, 1908 after which he was sent to England to race, but was pulled up lame in a workout and was retired.
Colin stood his first season in 1909 at Heath Stud, near Newmarket, England for a fee of 98 guineas. He was neglected by the English breeders due to his American bloodlines. First in England, and then back in Kentucky after Keene died, Colin was plagued by infertility problems. In c. 1913 Colin was purchased for $30,000 by Wickliffe Stud where he stood until the stud was dispersed in January, 1918. Edward B. McLean then purchased the 13-year-old Colin for $5,100 to stand at his Belray Farm, near Middleburg, Virginia. He still managed to sire 11 stakes winners out of 81 foals in 23 seasons at stud, which translates into 14% of his get. His best galloper was Jock (1924 from Kathleen by *Sempronius; 17 wins and $95,255). His son, Neddie was the paternal grandsire of the great Alsab. Another was On Watch, the broodmare sire of another great, Stymie.
He died in 1932 at the age of twenty-seven on Belray Farm near Middleburg, Virginia. Colin's lifetime earnings amounted to $180,912.
Kent Hollingsworth wrote in "The Great Ones": "Great horses have been beaten by mischance, racing luck, injury and lesser horses running the race of their lives. None of these, however, took Colin. He was unbeatable."
Colin was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1956. In The Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, he was ranked #15. It would be eighty years before another horse, Personal Ensign, retired unbeaten in America.
During his day, Rowe was considered America's greatest trainer. Yet all he wanted on his epitaph were these three words: He trained Colin.