Black Helen

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Black Helen
Sire Black Toney
Grandsire Peter Pan
Dam La Troienne
Damsire Teddy
Sex Filly
Foaled 1932
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Idle Hour Stock Farm
Owner Idle Hour Stock Farm
Trainer William A. "Bill" Hurley
Record 22 Starts: 15-0-2
Earnings $61,800
Major wins
American Derby (1935)
Florida Derby (1935)
Maryland Handicap (1935)
Coaching Club American Oaks (1935)
American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly (1935)
Black Helen Handicap at Hialeah Park
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1991)
Last updated on December 14, 2007

Black Helen was an American Thoroughbred race horse bred and foaled in the spring of 1932 at Colonel E. R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Black Helen was the result of a mating between Bradley's best stallion, Black Toney, and the "blue hen" mare La Troienne. This made her a full sister to Bimelech, the great Hall of Famer ranked number 84 in the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century.

Black Helen was small, weighing only 900 pounds when fully grown and standing barely fifteen hands. Since she was the second foal of La Troienne, whose first foal had been destroyed due to severe physical problems, and because she was so small, Black Helen was not nominated to enter any of her year’s important two-year-old stakes. Bradley assigned her to the farm's second string trainer, Bill Hurley. With his guidance, the little filly won her first seven starts.

In her three-year-old season, she was a sensation. Her performance in an allowance race at Hialeah Park Race Track was so impressive she was the "chalk" (betting favorite) for the Florida Derby. She beat colts in that race in a canter. In her next race, the Coaching Club American Oaks, she was boxed in at the rail but battled through to win by a nose. In another field of colts, it was the champion filly Nellie Flag she had to beat. She won, becoming the first female to take the American Derby since Modesty in 1884. She lost to Omaha, that year's Kentucky Derby winner as well as the winner of America's 3rd U.S. Triple Crown, in the Arlington Classic, but came back to win the Maryland Derby again against colts, with her stablemate, Bloodroot, placing.

Black Helen won the 1935 American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly honors. This was the year when the great Hall of Famer Myrtlewood (inducted in 1979) was also three and racing.

Black Helen produced no stakes winners in her long career as a broodmare, five years of which were spent at Claiborne Farm after Bradley's death. But three of her daughters did, and this meant that Black Helen’s influence continues to be felt to this day. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

Black Helen died at the age of 25 on August 17, 1957.

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