Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame


The success of the great broodmare La Troienne at Idle Hour Stock Farm was nothing short of extraordinary. Her first daughter Black Helen was the Champion Three Year Old Filly of 1935 and became a member of the Hall of Fame. Black Helen was also the second dam of the Champion Three Year Old Filly of 1947, But Why Not, as well as Champion Steeplechaser Oedipus. Black Helen's line continued when she became the sixth dam of Princess Rooney, a champion and Hall of Fame member herself.

La Troienne's 1935 foal was Baby League, who became the dam of the great mare Busher, as well as the stakes winners Mr. Busher and Striking.

In 1936 La Troienne produced Big Hurry, a stakes winner herself and the dam of Bridal Flower, the Champion Three Year Old Filly of 1946 and the conqueror of Assault in the Roamer Handicap. Big Hurry was also the dam of Allemande, who became the second dam of the champion mare Relaxing, who in turn produced the champion Easy Goer, winner of the 1989 Belmont Stakes. Big Hurry also produced the stakes winning colts The Admiral and Great Captain, but her most famous offspring was the Hall of Fame member Searching, whose success on the track was dwarfed by that of her great daughter Affectionately, also a Hall of Fame member. Searching was also the dam of Priceless Gem, who defeated Buckpasser in the Futurity and went on to produce Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Allez France.

When La Troienne's 1937 colt by Black Toney, named Bimelech, was foaled, the accomplishments of his older siblings and their descendants were as yet unknown, but Black Helen had already been a champion. After Bimelech came Big Event, the second dam of The Axe II; Businesslike, second dam of millionaire Polish Navy, and more importantly dam of the extraordinary Busanda, who after winning two Saratoga Cups and the 1951 Suburban Handicap retired to produce the great Buckpasser; the good filly Bee Ann Mac; Belle Histoire, the third dam of the champion Autobiography; and Belle of Troy, the dam of Cohoes, who sired Belmont Stakes winner Quadrangle.

Bimelech was foaled February 27, 1937 at E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm in Kentucky. In keeping with Bradley's tradition of using only names beginning with the letter B, the famous breeder dropped the A from Abimelech when naming the colt in honor of a friend.


The brilliant son of La Troienne roared onto the racing scene in 1939, winning all six starts at two. His career began at Suffolk Downs, where he galloped away from a field of maidens to win by three lengths. He next demolished an allowance field, going wire to wire to win by six lengths at Empire City.

Bimelech first raced in stakes company at Saratoga a month later, beating Briar Sharp and Andy K. by three lengths in the Saratoga Special. Bumped at the start and again in the stretch, Bimelech proved he could overcome adversity by beating Andy K. by a neck in the Hopeful Stakes.

He next reinforced his dominance with a length and a half score in the Futurity, before rounding out the season with a four length victory in the Pimlico Futurity.

The undefeated Bimelech was named Champion 2 Year Old Colt. Furthermore, he was the Experimental Free Handicap Highweight with an astounding 130 pounds, and shortly thereafter was made the winterbook favorite for the Kentucky Derby at three to one, the lowest odds in history.

Bimelech made his season debut in the Blue Grass Stakes, beating Roman by two and a half lengths. Ben Jones, who had won the Derby two years before with Lawrin, shared his opinion with Idle Hour general manager Olin Gentry:

"Your horse is fat, but if he does not run again until the Derby, he'll win it"

Gentry passed the advise on to trainer William Hurley, who disagreed, saying "Bimelech is an iron horse." The Idle Hour colt ran in the Derby Trial, easily beating Gallahadion by two and a quarter lengths.

Still undefeated, Bimelech was the overwhelming favorite to win the Kentucky Derby on May 4. It was his third start in eight days. Charles Howard's Mioland was the second choice in the betting, at six to one. Derby Trial runner up Gallahadion was thirty-five to one.

Bimelech broke on top, and never far from the lead, ran wide the entire trip. He drifted more after taking command at the quarter pole, and in the final furlong was passed by longshot Gallahadion. He was beaten a length and a half, obviously tired, and rider F.A. Smith took the blame.

Ironically, Bradley had won four Kentucky Derbies, but neither of his two best colts, Blue Larkspur and Bimelech, wore the roses. Neither did his good colt Black Servant, who was beaten by a stablemate.

Perhaps if the advise of Ben Jones had been followed, Bimelech would have won. It is equally possible that he would have won anyhow if not for the wide trip. He certainly didn't seem worse for wear when he arrived at Pimlico, where he won the Preakness Stakes, leaving Mioland and Gallahadion in the dust while he galloped off to a three length win.

After running second in the Withers Stakes, Bimlech went to post for the mile and a half Belmont Stakes. Again the overwhelming favorite, he showed the way from the early fractions, and came home the winner by three-quarters of a length.

He was third in the Arlington Classic to Dixiana Farm's Sirocco and Kentucky Derby winner Gallahadion, then was injured while schooling at Saratoga, and was done for the year. Bimelech was named Champion Three-Year-Old Colt.

Bimelech ran twice in early 1941 but was retired, as he disliked the new starting gates and Bradley feared he would cause himself injury. He had earned $248,745 with eleven wins in fifteen starts.

E.R. Bradley died in 1946, and his horses were sold. A syndicate including Greentree, King Ranch, and Ogden Phipps obtained Bimelech, and stood him at Greentree Stud. Bimelech sired 30 stakes winners, including Be Faithful, the second dam of Never Bend, and Better Self, the broodmare sire of Dr. Fager. Daughters of Bimelech produced 50 stakes winners including Porterhouse. Bimelech passed away in 1966 and entered the Hall of Fame in 1990. He was ranked eighty-fourth on the century end poll published by Blood-Horse.

Bimelech's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 15 11 2 1 $248,745

Bimelech, 1937 bay colt

Black Toney Peter Pan Commando Domino
Emma C.
Cinderella Hermit
Belgravia Ben Brush Bramble
Bonnie Gal Galopin
Bonnie Doon
La Troienne Teddy Ajax Flying Fox
Rondeau Bay Ronald
Helene de Troie Helicon Cyllene
Vain Duchess
Lady of Pedigree St. Denis


Recommended titles include: Champions from the Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 of the 20th Century from Blood-Horse, and Man O' War: Thoroughbred Legends #1 by Edward L. Bowen, as well as Seabiscuit on DVD .
Seabiscuit DVD

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