Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame

Twilight Tear

1944 Horse of the Year

Blue Larkspur was known as one of the greatest broodmare sires of all time, so it is hardly surprising that Warren Wright chose to keep his daughter Lady Lark as a broodmare, despite the fact that she had won only once on the racetrack. Besides, Lady Lark's third dam, Mannie Himyar, was a full sister to the great Domino.

Lady Lark's daughter Twilight Tear, called Suzie for short, was Calumet Farm's first champion sired by Bull Lea. The bay filly, foaled in 1941, was one of three future champions in the great sire's first foal crop. The other two were Brownell Combs' Durazna, who shared divisional championship honors with Twilight Tear in 1943, and Calumet's future handicap division champion, Horse of the Year, and leading money winner Armed.

Standing stud at Calumet, Bull Lea was the leading sire in America five times, siring 58 stakes winners, four Horses of the Year, and three Kentucky Derby winners. Bull Lea had carried Calumet Farm's silks to an eighth place finish in the 1938 Kentucky Derby, a race which was won by Lawrin, the first important winner to be trained by Ben A. Jones. A year later, Ben Jones and his son Jimmy were hired to train for Calumet Farm, and conditioned numerous Bull Lea sired champions, including not only Twilight Tear and Armed, but also Citation, Bewitch, Coaltown, Faultless, and Hill Gail. Ben Jones won the Kentucky Derby five more times after Lawrin's win, twice with horses sired by Bull Lea.

Ben A. Jones was born in Parnell, Missouri, in 1883. His father was the town's founder, and owned the bank there. Ben Jones had no desire to replace his father as president of the financial institution, however. He rode his bicycle to an agricultural college five hundred miles away, in Colorado, only to drop out and ride back. He then began training racehorses on the western fair circuit in 1909, and remained at that level of racing until 1932, when he was hired as the trainer for Woolford Farm, the stable which bred and owned Lawrin, with whom Ben Jones launched his career as a trainer of high class horses.

Twilight Tear began her racing career on June 25, 1943, in a maiden special weight at Washington Park. Slow to break, she recovered and drew off to win by three quarters of a length. Durazna, another Calumet horse, was third.

Next came the richest in her division, the Arlington Lassie Stakes, run that year not at Arlington but at Washington Park. Twilight Tear cantered to a two and a half length victory over her stablemate, Miss Keeneland.

The filly didn't race again until fall, when she ran at Pimlico. After running third in an allowance race in which she had forced the early pace on a sloppy track, Suzie cantered to another victory over stablemate Miss Keeneland in a mile and seventy yard prep race.

The main event was the Selima Stakes, in which Miss Keeneland sought revenge and scored by a length with Twilight Tear second, disliking the muddy track. In her final start at two, Twilight Tear wired an allowance field which included both Miss Keeneland and Red Wonder, to whom she had been third earlier in the year.

Durazna and Miss Keeneland were equally weighted on the Experimental Free Handicap, with Twilight Tear two pounds below them, and the division had no clear champion, with official honors shared by Durazna and Twilight Tear. Suzie had beaten both of the other fillies, but in her absense Durazna had won the Breeders Futurity and the Hawthorne Juvenile Stakes, and Miss Keeneland had scored her one win over Twilight Tear in a stakes race.

After finishing third to older colts in her season debut, the Leap Year Handicap at Hialeah, Twilight Tear began an eleven race winning streak. She won a pair of allowance races at Tropical Park, one in the slop and the other on a fast track, then came north and won an allowance race at Pimlico. None of the victories required any significant effort.

The field for Pimlico's Rennert Handicap included Calumet Farm's future Horse of the Year Armed, but it proved no contest, and Twilight Tear cantered to a length and a half victory. She next won the Pimlico Oaks by three Twilight Tear after the
          Pimlico Oakslengths over Plucky Maud, and was obviously never extended.

Next came the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park. Once again with speed in reserve, Twilight Tear cantered to a two and a half length victory over the good filly Whirlabout, whose wins that season included the Test, Gazelle, and Diana Stakes as well as the New England Oaks.

In the mile and three-eighths Coaching Club American Oaks, Calumet's Suzie was again unchallenged, winning as she pleased by four lengths.

In the Princess Doreen Stakes, she gave three pounds to Durazna and beat her a length and a half despite having to alter course. The victory prompted her trainer, the great Ben A. Jones, to say, "This is the best horse I've ever trained." Although Citation was not foaled until the following spring, Ben Jones had already trained the brilliantly fast colt Whirlaway to a Triple Crown.

In the Skokie Handicap, Suzie met a field of colts that included her stablemate, the 1944 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Pensive. In winning the race, Suzie set a new track record for seven furlongs. She beat Pensive again the next time out, in an allowance race at Washington Park.

Twilight Tear again beat the boys when she scored a two length victory in the Arlington Classic, the eleventh straight triumph for the filly.

The winning streak was broken when Suzie tried unsuccessfully to give away twelve pounds in the Alabama Stakes, finishing second to Vienna by three quarters of a length after pressing a sizzling pace. After a two month rest, Twilight Tear won both the Meadowville Handicap and Queen Isabella Handicaps, the latter by five lengths, and then ran out of the money for the first time when she failed to carry 130 pounds over a muddy track in the Maryland Handicap.

In Suzie's final race that year, she met two time handicap champion Devil Diver in the Pimlico Special. The older colt was beaten in the first quarter, and Twilight Tear went on to win by six lengths, tying the track record set by Seabiscuit in his 1938 victory over War Admiral.

Twilight Tear

Thus ending a brilliant season, she was named 1944 Horse of the Year. Not since Beldame, forty years earlier, had a three-year-old filly claimed the title. Twilight Tear also was named Champion Three Year Old Filly and Champion Handicap Mare.

Retired from racing after bleeding in her only start at four, Twilight Tear produced several stakes winners for Calumet Farm. She had two foals by Whirlaway. The first, foaled in 1947, was Foremost, who was a winner, although not a stakes winner. Coiner, foaled in 1948, won several small stakes races.

Suzie's next foal was A Gleam, a chestnut daughter of Blenheim II who won twelve starts and $ 251,395. Her wins including the Princess Pat Stakes, the Cinema Handicap, the Debonair Stakes, the Hollywood Oaks, two runnings of the Milady Handicap, and the Westerner Stakes. She in turn produced A Glitter, who won the Coaching Club American Oaks, Monmouth Oaks, Modesty Handicap, and Betsy Ross Stakes. A Gleam also produced Moonbeam, dam of the 1981 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Before Dawn, who also carried the Calumet silks.

Twilight Tear's son Bardstown earned $628,752 despite not running until he was four. The gelding scored numerous victories, including the Trenton Handicap, the Equipoise Mile, the Gulfstream Handicap, and twoTwilight Tear's best son,
          Bardstown runnings of the Widener Handicap.

Suzie's other foals included Prince Mike, Diamond Tear, and Curlew Call. She died in 1954. Twilight Tear was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963, and at the end of the century Blood-Horse ranked her fifty-ninth on their list of the top racehorses of the century.

Twilight Tear's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 24 18 2 2 $202,165

Twilight Tear, 1941 bay filly

Bull Lea Bull Dog Teddy Ajax
Plucky Liege Spearmint
Rose Leaves Ballot Voter
Colonial Trenton
Thankful Blossom
Lady Lark Blue Larkspur Black Servant Black Toney
Blossom Time North Star III
Ladana Lucullite Trap Rock
Lucky Lass
Adana Adam
Mannie Himyar


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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