Calumet Farm produced eight Kentucky Derby winning horses in its decades of dominance. Some of those were all-time greats (like Whirlaway and Citation) and some were not (like Ponder and Iron Liege). One of their Kentucky Derby champions that falls somewhere in the middle of the group is 1952 Derby winner, Hill Gail.
Hill Gail had the same Sire that Citation had in Bull Lea and the Dam was a horse named Jane Gail. In the 1952 Kentucky Derby, Hill Gail took control shortly after the field entered the backstretch and never relinquished it. He, at one point, was over five lengths in front of the field and ended up winning by a very comfortable margin of two lengths over a closer named Sub Fleet. This style of victory was very reminiscent of another Derby winner that came along twenty years later named Riva Ridge (who has also been profiled on this blog before). His winning time of 2:01.3 missed Whirlaway's Derby record time (at the time) by a fifth of a second. Unfortunately, Hill Gail suffered an injury during the Derby and did not contest the Preakness and Belmont Stakes that followed the heels of his Derby score. He did return from the injury eventually and won two of eight starts as a four-year-old in 1953 and managed two seconds in nine starts as a five-year-old in 1954. He won eleven of his thirty-two lifetime starts and earned $335,625 in purses.
One other note about Hill Gail's victory in 1952 was that it was the last of five Kentucky Derby victories for The Master. Jockey Eddie Arcaro (pictured) won the Kentucky Derby aboard Lawrin in 1938, Whirlaway in 1941, Hoop Jr. in 1945, and Citation in 1948 in addition to the win aboard Hill Gail. Arcaro would be voted into the Horse Racing Hall Of Fame in 1958.
Tune in on Thursday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of horseracing.about.com