Zellinsky, Charles L. H.
Charles L. H. Zellinsky (German/American, 1842-1905)
PROCTOR KNOTT WITH SHELBY "PIKE" BARNES UP
Oil on canvas, 28" x 34"
Signed and dated 1888
Proctor Knott was an American Thoroughbred who was bred by the famous Belle Meade Stud in Nashville, Tennessee, and who was named for the governor of Kentucky, J. Proctor Knott. He was foaled in 1886 in Tennessee. His sire was the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame horse Blackburn and his dam was Tallapaloosa. George Scoogan and Captain Sam Bryant owned Proctor Knott during his racing career. He won the Junior Champion Stakes and the inaugural running of the Futurity Stakes at Sheepshead Bay, which at the time was the richest race ever run in North America. Proctor Knott was the American champion two-year-old male horse of 1888. His career earnings were $80,350, which calculated for inflation, would be slightly more than $2 million today.
Shelby "Pike" Barnes
Competing in an era when African-American jockeys ruled the sport of Thoroughbred racing, Shelby "Pike" Barnes was widely recognized by turf experts to be among the elite in his profession. Barnes was born in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, in 1871. Barnes became a star as a teenager. In 1888, Barnes led all other North American riders with 206 wins, becoming the first jockey to top 200 wins in a year. This record is even more remarkable when one considers that his closest pursuer, George Covington, rode just 95 winners that year. Barnes secured his status as an outstanding rider with his star-making performance in the inaugural Futurity Stakes in 1888. Staged by the Coney Island Jockey Club at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, New York, the Futurity offered an unheard of purse of $40,900. Aboard the favorite, Proctor Knott, Barnes battled future Hall of Fame horse Salvator and jockey Tony Hamilton in the six-furlong sprint for two-year-olds. Barnes and Proctor Knott dug in during the stretch and secured a dramatic half-length victory in one of the most notable races of the 19th century.
Barnes repeated as North America's leading jockey in 1889 with 170 wins - winning the Travers Stakes, the Champagne Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, the Brooklyn Derby, and the Alabama Stakes. Despite his enormous success as a rider, Barnes (like many of the other great African-American jockeys of his day) faded from the memory of the racing world, and his legacy was all but forgotten. In a letter to the National Museum of Racing, Hall of Fame trainer Fred Burlew ranked Barnes as one of the top five African-American jockeys in the history of the sport. In 2011, Shelby "Pike" Barnes received the long overdue honor of being inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame.