Gorytus was a Virgina-born racehorse bred and owned by Alice du Pont Mills at Hickory Tree Farm. His name is the Latin version of the Greek word for a Scythian bow.

Gorytus took the racing world by storm in 1982 by winning the Acomb Stakes and Champagne Stakes by wide margins. In his last race of the season, he developed mysterious problems halfway through the race. No reason for this incident were ever found, which led to intense speculation and rumors of someone intentionally exposing him to drugs to prevent him from winning. Gorytus returned to the racetrack for the 1983 season, but never reached the same levels as in 1982.

In his British races, Gorytus was ridden by the Scottish jockey Willie Carson.

The 16-year-old Gorytus died in Japan on July 18, 1996.

Short facts about Gorytus




February 7, 1980


United States






Northern Dancer


Glad Rags


High Hat


Hickory Tree Farm


Alice du Pont Mills


Dick Hern
Woody Stephens


8: 2-1-0

Major wins

Acomb Stakes (1982)
Champagne Stakes (1982)


Timeform rating 132 (1982), 123 (1983)


Gorytus was bred in Virginia at the Hickory Tree Farm. He was a bay colored horse adorned with a small white star. The Timeform once described him as “beautifully-proportioned, combining size, strength and quality” with “splendid limbs” and “a noble head“.

Gorytus sire was the famous Nijinsky, the Canadian-bred winner of the English Triple Crown in 1970. (Nijinsky also sired horses such as Lammtarra, Shahrastani, Ferdinand, and Sky Classic).

Gorytus dam was an Irish-bred mare named Glad Rags who had won the 1000 Guineas in 1966. The 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags is one example of Glad Rags’ many successful descendants, and so is Declaration of War, winner of the Queen Anne Stakes and International Stakes in 2013.

Gorytus owner Alice du Pont Mills didn’t sell the colt; instead she sent him to England to be trained by Dick Hern at West Isley in Berkshire.




Northern Dancer


Nearctic Nearco
Lady Angela
Natalma Native Dancer

Flaming Page


Bull Page Bull Lea
Our Page
Flaring Top Menow
Flaming Top

Glad Rags


High Hat


Hyperion Gainsborough
Madonna Donatello
Women’s Legion



Panorama Sir Cosmo
Happy Climax
Woodside Furrokh Siyar
Princess Argosy

1982: Gorytus two-year-old season

Acomb Stakes

Gorytus first race was the Acomb Stakes at York Racecourse in August 1982. He took the lead in the final quarter mile and won the race with an amazing seven lengths margin. His winning time was 1.23.73 – a new record for the track and over a second faster than the old one.

Champagne Stakes

A month after the Acomb victory, Gorytus was moved up in class for the Group Two Champagne Stakes over seven furlongs as Doncaster Racecourse. His jockey Carson never even had to use the whip – a formidable Gorytus moved into the lead two furlongs from the finish, broke away from the field in the closing stages and won by a comfortable five lengths.

Group One Dewhurst Stakes

On October 15, Gorytus participated in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse, and this was to become his last race of the season.

Gorytus ran well until half way into the race, when he began to struggle and his jockey Carson could be seen looking down at the horse’s legs as if trying to spot signs of injury. Gorytus dropped out of contention and finished last.

Gorytus was in a distressed state after the race, but no signs of injury could be found. Within 24 hours, he was back to normal again. This strange event led to a lot of speculation, especially since it was rumored that some bookmakers had laid the horse to lose so much that they could not afford to pay if he won. Post-race drug testing carried out by the Jockey Club did not manage to shed any light on the situation.

1983: Gorytus three-year-old season

Gorytus three-year-old season didn’t go well and he didn’t win any races.

  • Gorytus started his three-year-old season by finishing 5th in the 2000 Guineas at Rowley Mile on April 30.
  • He didn’t participate in the Derby because the ground was unusually soft, and he was kept out of the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot due to an illness in the respiratory system.
  • In mid-August, Gorytus finished 4th in the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup at York.
  • Eleven days after the race at York, Gorytus participated in the Waterford Crystal Mile at Goodwood Racecourse, where the ground was nice and firm. He finished in fifth place, which was the penultimate spot.

1984: Gorytus four-year-old season

Gorytus moved to the United States in 1984 to be trained by Woody Stephens and participate in American races.

  • His first race of the season was the Royal Palm Handicap at Hialeah Park in January, where he finished runner-up. After this race, Stephens commented that the horse “didn’t look very genuine”.
  • Two weeks later, Gorytus returned to Hialeah Park where he finished fourth in the Bougainvillea Handicap.

1984 was the final year of Gorytus racing career. In 1985, he was retired from the track and became a breeding stallion.


  • Rated 132 by Timeform at the end of the 1982 season. (Second-best two-year-old of the season, behind Dieses who was rated 133.)
  • Ranked behind Diesis and Saint Cyrien in the International Classification for 1982.
  • Rated 123 by Timeform in 1983.
  • Rated 13 pounds inferior to the top-rated three-year-old in the International Classification for 1983.

Gorytus becomes a breeding stallion

Gorytus moved to Coolmore Stud in Ireland in 1985 where he worked as a breeding stallion. After three years at Coolmore, he was exported to Japan where he lived until his death in 1996.

The best racehorses from Gorytus were the Group Three winners La Monalisa (Prix Penelope) and Gouriev (Horris Hill Stakes). Gorytus was also the damsire of the successful hurdler Inglis Drever.