In 1917, Willis Sharpe Kilmer had his champion juvenile Sun Briar pointed for the Kentucky Derby, bought a good-class gelding to work with him named Exterminator, and when Sun Briar was scratched from the Derby, watched Exterminator win the Roses.
In the mid-summer, Sun Briar met Exterminator and others in the Travers to determine who was best. The following report is from The Thoroughbred Record of 24 August 1918. (Spelling is left as found.)
“Starter Mars Cassidy didn’t even have to earn his money in getting this small field of four away from the post, and when he sprung the barrier, they were in perfect alignment. Johren, which had the first position at the post, showed in front as they flashed down in front of the crowded grandstand, the start of the mile and a quarter journey being made in front of the old field stand. Sun Briar was full of run, however, and soon took the lead and held it as they went past the club house and around the turn. War Cloud was on the outside of the quartette, all close together as they rounded to the back stretch, and it was there that he got his roughing from Exterminator.
“When they had got well straightened out down through the long run far across the green field, they still were close together, but Robinson, who had dropped back behind War Cloud and Exterminator, brought Johren up on the inside, and by the time they had gone half the journey, he had rushed the Whitney entry up into the lead. He increased his advantage, and then came the cry that Johren would win all by himself. There were those who could not see that Knapp was content to allow Sun Briar to romp along under restraint.
“Rounding the turn for home Johren had opened up a gap of more than three lengths and was sailing along easily. Sun Briar still was running in second place, while War Cloud, a half dozen lengths back of him, was palpably beaten. It could be seen that the race was to be between Johren and Sun Briar when Buxton brought down his whip and failed to get the expected response from the Macomber colt ( Ed. note: War Cloud).
“After keeping track of the quartette until they were on their way down the homestretch, it is just as well to forget War Cloud, for even the whip failed to rouse the son of Polymelus at the head of the run for home, and Exterminator was through. Maybe Bill Knapp had shown a great piece of jockeyship by allowing Johren to run through on the rail and take the lead, but still Robinson was doin his very best on the Whitney colt.
“And then down close to the rail came the green and orange of the Kilmer Stable, and with a burst of speed like a Barney Oldfield driven motor car, Sun Briar shot up and on to get on even terms with the leader. There was a battle for the final sixteenth and then, just as they passed the judges’ stand, Sun Briar had been good enough to get his blond head in front. It had been thought throughout the day that Sun Briar might not be able to go the mile and a quarter, which he never had traveled in any previous day, but when it was all over, it was the consensus that the colt, which was the champion as a 2-year-old last year, had already made good as the champion 3-year-old of the present season.”
Sun Briar, the imported son of Sundridge and the St Frusquin mare Sweet Briar, was Kilmer’s pet. With these successes, Kilmer set up Sun Briar at the head of his stud, and the horse proved a useful sire, getting one-time leading money winner Sun Briar Beau, among others.