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Sire Runnymede
Grandsire Voter
Dam Hymir
Damsire Dr. Leggo
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1919
Country United States
Colour Brown
Breeder Adolph B. Spreckels
Owner Benjamin Block
Trainer Fred Burlew
Record 16: 12-2-1
Earnings $172,909
Major wins
United States Hotel Stakes (1921)
Hopeful Stakes (1921)
Pimlico Futurity (1921)
Saratoga Special Stakes (1921)
American Classic Race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1922)
United States Champion 2-Yr-Old Colt (1921)
Morvich Handicap at Santa Anita Park
Infobox last updated on: May 2, 2007.

Morvich (1919-1946) was an American Thoroughbred who was the first California-bred racehorse to win the Kentucky Derby. Bred by sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels at his Napa Stock Farm, Morvich was sired by James R. Keene's stallion, Runnymede, and was out of the mare, Hymir. Sold to Benjamin Block as a castoff with little future, the young colt was described as an "ugly cripple that no one thought could run until (trainer) Burlew proved them wrong." [1]

Despite the predictions at the time, under future Hall of Fame trainer Fred Burlew, in 1921 Morvich had one of the best seasons in American racing history for a two-year-old. Beginning as a lowly selling plater, he rapidly moved up, winning all eleven of his starts, a feat that ranks close to the record of thirteen consecutive wins set by Tremont in 1886. Dominating performances against the best horses in his age group saw Morvich the runaway winner of United States Champion 2-Yr-Old Colt honors.

Although Morvich had not raced in 1922 leading up to the Kentucky Derby, bettors nevertheless made him the heavy favorite to win the prestigious race. Ridden by Albert Johnson, the colt did not disappoint and easily earned his 12th straight victory. In an era when the U.S. Triple Crown races had not yet become the major event for three-year-olds, Morvich did not compete in the Preakness Stakes (which was run on the same day as the Kentucky Derby in 1922). Instead, his handlers sent him to New York to compete in the Carlton Stakes where stunned racing faces at Aqueduct Racetrack watched as Harry Payne Whitney's colt Whiskaway handed Morvich his first defeat.

Morvich ended his 1922 campaign with the Derby as his only victory in five starts and after finishing off the board in the Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack, he was retired to stud duty where he proved less than successful as a sire. His only offspring of note was Downy Pillow, a Debutante Stakes winner.[1]

The colt's knees were the likely cause of his decline. He had also developed osselets in one ankle. His death effectively marked the extinction of the Hermit male-line in in the United States.[1]


  1. ^ Avalyn Hunter,American classic pedigrees: 1914-2003, Blood Horse Publications, 2003.


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