Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Renowned Thoroughbred Horse Trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons Born

Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons (left) and William Woodward, Sr
July 23, 1874 (139 years ago today):  Renowned thoroughbred horse trainer James Edward Fitzsimmons (Sunny Jim) was born in Brooklyn, New York.  He started his career in horse racing as a stable boy, worked his way up to being a jockey, and then he became one of the greatest thoroughbred trainers of all time as the head trainer for Belair Stud.  Fitzsimmons was the training genius behind Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and Omaha, as well as the 1955 Horse of the Year, Nashua.

Belair Stud horses were typically foaled at the Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.  After the horses were weaned, they were sent to Belair.   Each spring, Belair Stud owner William Woodward. Sr. and Sunny Jim would inspect all the yearlings at Belair, and they decided which horses would be sold and which horses would be trained.  Many of the selected thoroughbreds were sent to Aqueduct for training - Fitzsimmons' home track.  This was the process followed for Gallant Fox, Omaha and Nashua.