Buchanan was a chestnut Thoroughbred colt born in 1881. He was owned and bred by William Cottrill, a Civil War veteran from Mobile, Alabama. Captain Cottrill was one of the dedicated horsemen who helped to revive the sport of racing in the north after the War by running his horses at northern tracks such as Saratoga. Buchanan was born at Cottrill's breeding farm near Danville, Kentucky, a son of Buckden (a very successful imported stallion) and a mare named Mrs. Grigsby; he could trace his pedigree back to Eclipse.1,2

         |                  |                   | Newminster by Touchstone 
         |                  | Lord Clifden      |                         
         |                  |                   | The Slave by Melbourne      
         | Buckden          |                   |                            
         |                  |                   | Bay Middleton by Sultan       
         |                  | Consequence       |                           
         |                  |                   | Result by Mulatto
Buchanan -----------------------------------------------------------  
         |                  |                   | Sir Charles by Sir Archy        
         |                  | Wagner            |
         |                  |                   | Maria West by Marion
         | Mrs. Grigsby     |                   | 
         |                  |                   | Yorkshire by St. Nicholas   
         |                  | Folly             |     
         |                  |                   | Fury by Priam   

In his second year, Buchanan was put into training with William Bird (one of many successful African-Americans in the business at the time). The colt did not win any races as a two year old, but his third year was better: he earned victories in the Ripple Stakes, Clark Stakes, and Kentucky Derby, as well as finishing second in the Maiden Stakes, Criterion Stakes, St. James Hotel Stakes, Alexander Stakes, Jackson Stakes, and Brewers' Stakes. Buchanan was third in the Barrett Stakes, Belle Mead Stakes, Hindoo Stakes, Granite Mountain Stakes, and Latonia Derby. Of course, his most celebrated race was the tenth running of the Kentucky Derby, on May 16, 1884.3

Kentucky Derby Day 1884 was warm with clear skies.4 Buchanan and eight other horses lined up at the starting post. The track condition was good and the colt carried 110 pounds, including renowned African-American jockey Isaac Burns Murphy (who won a record 628 of 1412 races in his fifteen year career, among them three Kentucky Derbies).5 Captain Cottrill had already been to the Derby several times: his Ascension finished tenth in 1875, Kimball was second behind Hindoo in 1880, and Harry Gilmore placed fourth in 1882. These were the days before automatic starting gates, so the signal to start was given by an official waving a flag. A horse named Bob Miles jumped out just before the flag was dropped and gained an immediate two length lead with Powhattan III, Audrain, and Admiral next. Buchanan, who had been unruly in the line-up, had a poor start. Isaac Murphy guided him close to the inner rail in order to save ground and waited for the lead horses to tire. Near the three-quarters of a mile mark, Buchanan and Murphy zoomed around the pack into the lead. As the horses entered the stretch, Buchanan was in front by two lengths with no challengers, so Murphy slowed him for the final eighth of a mile. The winning time was 2:40 1/4. Behind Buchanan, the order of the finish was: Loftin, Audrain, Bob Miles, Bob Cook, Boreas, Admiral, Exploit, and Powhattan III. Buchanan earned $3990 for his work that day6 and he was the first maiden7 ever to win the Derby (Sir Barton (1919) and Brokers Tip (1933) are the only other maiden Derby winners).8

In his racing career, Buchanan had 35 starts, 8 wins, 14 seconds, and ten thirds. He finished in the money in all but three races and earned a total of $13110. At the end of his third year, Buchanan was retired to stud at Sam Brown's Senorita Farm near Lexington, Kentucky (part of this farm later became the Kentucky Horse Park).9 He sired Buck McCann who won the Latonia Derby, placed second in the Clark Stakes, and finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby in 1893. His son Sun Up was third in the Carter Handicap and sixth in the 1895 Preakness Stakes. In 1897 another son, Dr. Sheppard, placed second in the Eclipse Stakes and fourth in the Kentucky Derby.3

1. http://members.fortunecity.com/spiletta42/files1.html
2. http://horseracing.about.com/library/blalabama.htm
3. http://www.tbcprojects.com/career.php?search=1038
4. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/climate/derby.txt
5. http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/180/Issac_B_Murphy_was_a_horse_racing_legend
6. http://www.kentuckyderby.com/2003/derby_history/derby_charts/years/1884.html
7. A "maiden" is a horse that has not yet won a race
8. http://www.derbypost.com/Archive/Reports/2001reports2.html
9. http://www.imh.org/khp/general/history.asp

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