George Barbee was an English-born jockey who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1996. Published reports indicate Barbee lived to 89 or 93, and is buried near Belmont Park.
Barbee began his racing career as an apprentice to Tom Jennings, Sr., for whom he exercised the 1865 English Triple Crown winner Gladiateur.
Barbee came to this country in 1872 specifically to ride for John Chamberlain. He began his stateside career riding at Monmouth Park.
In 1873 Barbee won the inaugural Preakness Stakes aboard Survivor who won the by 10 lengths, a record until Smarty Jones 11 1/2 length victory in 2004. He later won two other Preakness Stakes aboard Shirley (1876) and Jacobus (1883).
His record three Preakness victories was not surpassed until Eddie Arcaro won his fourth in 1951.
In addition to the Preakness victories, Barbee won the 1874 Belmont Stakes aboard Saxon, and the 1874 and 1875 Travers Stakes aboard Attila and D'Artagnan, respectively.
Tom Ochiltree was one of Barbee's most important mounts. He took the colt to victory in the Saratoga, Monmouth, Centennial, Westchester and Baltimore Cups. Other significant horses ridden by Barbee include: Springbok, Duke of Magenta, Eole, and Uncas.
"The Great Race"
Barbee rode in "The Great Race". The United States Congress shut down on October 24, 1877 for a day so its members could attend a horse race at Pimlico Race Course in nearby Baltimore, Maryland. The event was a 2 1/2-mile match race run by a trio of champions: Ten Broeck, Tom Ochiltree and Parole. Ten Broeck, the Kentucky champion, was owned by F. B. Harper. Tom Ochiltree, the Eastern champion and winner of the 1875 Preakness Stakes, was owned by George L. Lorillard, an heir to the Lorillard tobacco fortune. Parole, a gelding, was owned by Pierre Lorillard IV, George's brother.
Parole, with William Barrett up, prevailed with a late run, crossing the finish line three lengths ahead of Ten Broeck and six ahead of Tom Ochiltree, which had helped to set the early pace with Barbee in the irons.
An estimated 20,000 people crowded into Pimlico to witness the event.
The event is depicted in a four ton stone bas relief - copied from a Currier & Ives print and sculpted in stone by Bernard Zuckerman - hanging over the clubhouse entrance at Pimlico. It is 30 feet long and 10 feet high and is gilded in 24-karat gold leaf.
George Barbee was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1996, chosen by the Hall of Fame's Historical Review Committee.