William I'Anson and Bonnie Scotland the horse

Bonnie Scotland the horse

“He was a blood bay, black-legged horse without a spot of white on him except for a star on his forehead, the richest-colored bay we have ever seen. He stands a full 16 hands high, he has the longest shoulder, deepest heart-place, best forehand, shortest saddle-place and the most powerful quarters of any horse now before the public.”

Those are the words of horse racing expert Henry W Herbert, describing Bonnie Scotland on his arrival to the USA in 1857.

Bonnie Scotland would go on to become the most influential animal in American horse racing history – his influence not coming on the track but at stud.  

William I'Anson and Bonnie Scotland the horse

Breeder William I’Anson and Bonnie Scotland the horse

Who was Bonnie Scotland?

  • Bonnie Scotland was a Thoroughbred Stallion
  • Born in 1853 in England
  • Won Two races aged three
  • Exported to the USA
  • Became the most influential Stallion in US Horse Racing History
  • ALL Kentucky Derby Entrants in 2022 can trace their lineage back to Bonnie Scotland

Bonnie Scotland Horse Pedigree

Bonnie Scotland was bred by Mr William I’Anson of North Yorkshire, England in 1853.  His father was Iago, himself an accomplished racehorse with impeccable breeding.   Iago’s own father, Don John, was the 1838 winner of the Doncaster St. Leger.   Iago won the Column Stakes at Newmarket, the Racing Stakes at Goodwood, the Welcome Stakes at Ascot and placed second in the Great Yorkshire Stakes

Mr William I’Anson of North Yorkshire, England

His mother, Queen Mary produced many notable race winners, such as Blink Bonny who won the Derby and Oaks in 1857.

Queen mary, mother of Bonnie Scotland

Queen Mary, mother of Bonnie Scotland

Bonnie Scotland Horse Bloodline

Bonnie Scotland. Born 1853. Family Tree
born. 1843
Don John

Unknown Mare by ComusComus

Mare by Alexander
Unknown Mare by HaphazardHaphazard
Queen Mary
born. 1843

Unknown Mare by Plenipotentiary


Bonnie Scotland’s Racing Career

Bonnie Scotland’s racing career was cut short through injury, although he showed great promise in his limited time on the track.

He was injured as a two-year-old, but after recovering, he managed to make four starts at three years old which resulted in two wins and a second place.

  • Won the Liverpool St Leger in 1856
  • Placed fourth in the Great Yorkshire Stakes
  • Second place dead-heat in the Doncaster St Leger Stakes, coming ahead of Derby winner Ellington
  • Won the Doncaster Stakes in 1856, again defeating Ellington

He was retired to stud as a three year old and is rumoured to have sired two foals in the UK before being exported to the USA as a 4 year old in 1857. 

Who owned Bonnie Scotland?

Mr. William l’Anson sold Bonnie to Eugene Leigh, a famous an American Thoroughbred racehorse trainer/owner and breeder who was based in France.  Captain Cornish from Massachusetts then imported him to the USA in 1857.

As soon as he stepped off the boat, he was purchased by John Reeber for $1200 (approximately $43,000 in 2024)

He worked at Reeber’s Fashion Stud in Ohio from 1858-1867.  He soon started to make a name for himself, siring foals such as Dangerous in 1859, Malcolm in 1862 and Frogtown in 1868.  Frogtown set the American record for 10 fulongs in 1872.  

Still under the ownership of Reeber, he was moved to Kentucky for the 1868 season then to Illinois for 1868 and 1869. 

In June of 1869 he was sold at auction for $1,000, to the Glen Flora Farm of R. H. and C. C. Parks in Waukegan, Illinois where he stood until 1872. 

He was second on the Leading Sires list in 1868 and 1871, which piqued the interest of General William G. Harding, stable master of the famous Belle Meade Stud, Nashville, Tennessee.

Despite being 19 years old, this is where Bonnie Scotland’s legacy was cemented.  Under the stewardship of General Harding, and covering some of the finest mares in the racing world at the time, Bonnie Scotland went on to produce multiple race winners such as Hall of Famer Luke Blackburn and Belmont stakes winner George Kinney.

Bonnie proved his worth by becming the the Leading Sire in 1880 and 1882.  The leading sire is the horse, who’s foals win the most prize money in horse racing. 

It’s one thing producing successful racehorses, but in order to carry on a lineage for 150 years, a horse also has to successfully pass on his genes, which Bonnie did with his grandson, Ben Brush.  Himself a Kentucky derby winner who’s name appears in the pedigrees of 48 out of the last 50 derby winners, including every derby winner from 1972 onwards.

Bonnie Scotland died at Belle Meade on February 1, 1880.  His Skeleton is now at the Vanderbilt university in Nashville.

Timeline showing the life and achivements of bonnie scotland the horse

Bonnie Scotland Thoroughbred Lineage

Bonnie Scotland’s influence on the bloodlines of the American horse racing industry cannot be under-stated. 

ALL of the horses that ran in 2022 Kentucky Derby can trace their lineage back to Bonnie Scotland.

The winner, Rich Strike, can be traced back to Bonnie Scotland as follows:

Gold Strike => Smart Strike => Mr. Prospector => Raise a Native => Native Dancer => Polynesian => Black Poly => Black Queen => Black Maria => Black Toney => Belgravia => Ben Brush => Bramble => Bonnie Scotland

Rich Strike is the 15th Generation of Bonnie Scotland offspring, A lineage stretching back over 140 years. 

The image below is from the Belle Meade Museum and shows many notable descendants of Bonnie Scotland. See which names you recognginse!

Offspring of Bonnie Scotland, Including many noteable Kentucky derby winners

Famous Bonnie Scotland Horse descendants:

Secretariat, widely acknowledged as one of the most successful racehorses of all time can trace his blood lines back to Bonnie Scotland. 


Secretariat, Considered to be one of the top racehorses of all time

Sea Biscuit, the top money-winning racehorse of the 1940s.

Sea Biscuit

Sea Biscuit

California Chrome, 2014 Kentucky Derby winner, with career earnings of nearly $15 million dollars

California Chrome

California Chrome

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