Hill Gail

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Hill Gail
Sire Bull Lea
Grandsire Bull Dog
Dam Jane Gail
Damsire Blenheim
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1949
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Calumet Farm
Owner Calumet Farm
Trainer Ben A. Jones & Horace A. Jones
Record 32: 11-5-3
Earnings $335,625
Major wins
Arlington Futurity (1951)
Phoenix Handicap (1952)
San Vicente Stakes (1952)
Santa Anita Derby (1952)
Derby Trial (1952)
Kentucky Derby (1952)

Hill Gail (1949–1968) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse. One of the leading American two-year-olds of 1951, Hill Gail recorded his most important success the following spring when he won of the 1952 Kentucky Derby. He was injured during the race and was never as effective in his subsequent racing career. He was retired to stand as a breeding stallion in Ireland, where he had limited success as a sire of winners.

Background[edit]

Hill Gail was a dark bay horse bred and raced by Calumet Farm of Lexington, Kentucky. He was sired Champion sire, Bull Lea out of Jane Gail, a successful but temperamental racemare described by her trainer Jimmy Jones as "a well-authenticated bitch".[1] As a descendant of the broodmare St Angela, Jane Gail was distantly related to the British champion St. Simon and Orme.[2]

Hill Gail was trained by Ben Jones for races in the East while his son Jimmy handled the colt's conditioning in California.

Racing career[edit]

At age two, Hill Gail set a new Arlington Park track record for six furlongs when winning the 1951 Arlington Futurity, the most valuable two-year-old race of the season.[3] In October, Hill Gail recorded an upset victory over the year's leading colt Tom Fool in a sprint race at Belmont Park,[4] but was beaten by the same colt in the Belmont Futurity five days later.

In early 1952, Hill Gail equaled the Keeneland Race Course record for six furlongs in winning the 1952 Phoenix Handicap but was twice defeated by the Irish colt Windy City. In the Santa Anita Derby however, he reversed the form to beat Windy City by four lengths.[5] On the eve of the Kentucky Derby Hill Gail set a new Churchill Downs track record of 1:34.4 for eight furlongs when winning the Derby Trial by six lengths. With Tom Fool ruled out by illness,[6] Hill Gail became the popular choice for the Kentucky Derby.[7]

Hill Gail, ridden by the veteran jockey Eddie Arcaro, started betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby, which was broadcast across America on live television for the first time. When Hill Gail began to misbehave in the paddock before the race, Ben Jones reportedly calmed the horse by punching him on the nose.[1] Eddie Arcaro sent the colt to the front after half a mile and Hill Gail produced what was described as a "stupendous burst of speed"[8] to open up a six length advantage by the time the runners rounded the final turn. The outsider Sub Fleet emerged as a challenger in the stretch and Arcaro had to resort to his whip to ensure that Hill Gail reached the wire two lengths in front of Sub Fleet, with the second favourite Blue Man in third. The win gave Arcaro a record fifth Kentucky Derby, whilst trainer Ben Jones was winning the race for a sixth time, also a record.[9] Hill Gail sustained a leg injury in the Derby which prevented him from running in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.[10]

Racing at age four and again at age five, Hill Gail met with modest success, but did not win a significant Graded stakes race. At the end of the 1954 racing season, he was retired from racing.

Stud record[edit]

In 1954, Hill Gail was sold for $150,000[11] and exported to sent to in Ireland where he stood as a stallion at the Brownstown Stud. The most successful of Hill Gail's offspring was Martial who won the Classic 2000 Guineas in 1960. However, Hill Gail's other offspring met with only limited success in racing on European grass surfaces. He died there in 1968. A plaque to his memory is in the Calumet Farm horse cemetery.[12]

Tabulated pedigree[edit]

Pedigree of Hill Gail (USA) Bay 1949[13]
Sire
Bull Lea (USA)
1935
Bull Dog Teddy Ajax
Rondeau
Plucky Liege Spearmint
Concertina
Rose Leaves Ballot Voter
Cerito
Colonial Trenton
Thankful Blossom
Dam
Jane Gail (USA)
1944
Blenheim Blandford Swynford
Blanche
Malva Charles O'Malley
Wild Arum
Lady Higloss Ladkin Fair Play
Lading
Hi Gloss High Time
Sunglow (family 11-c)[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Peter Chew (1974). The Kentucky Derby, the first 100 years. Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  2. ^ a b "Jerboa - Family 11-c". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  3. ^ "Calumet colt Futurity king". Miami News. July 26, 1951. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  4. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. (1951-10-02). "Hill Gail Defeats Favored Tom Fool". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  5. ^ "Hill Gail easy victor in Santa Anita Derby". St. Joseph News-Press. February 23. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  6. ^ "Tom Fool pulled out of Derby field". Milwaukee Journal. April 21, 1952. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  7. ^ "Hill Gail captures Derby Trial". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 30, 1952. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Hill Gail wins 78th Kentucky Derby". St. Petersburg Times. My 4 1952. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  9. ^ "Hill Gail wins Derby". Miami News. May 4, 1952. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  10. ^ "Hill Gail injured". Milwaukee Journal. May 10, 1952. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  11. ^ "Hill Gail sold to Irish stud". St. Joseph Gazette. November 8, 1954. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  12. ^ "Grave Matters Farm Index North America". Tbheritage.com. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  13. ^ "Hill Gail pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-08-24.