Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame

Tim Tam

Much debate has surrounded the source of Tim Tam's name. According to Calumet Farm owner Mrs. Gene Markey, the horse was called after one of her husband's friends, a member of the British nobility who preferred to remain anonymous. Margaret Glass, a secretary at Calumet, later revealed that the horse was more than likely named after Mrs. Markey's Yorkshire Terrier, Timmy. Then again, Timmy could well have been named after the shy nobleman. Whether or not the colt's name had noble origins may be questioned, but that there was royalty in his blood is indisputable.

Owned and bred by the legendary Calumet Farm, Tim Tam was a bay son of 1953 Handicap Triple Crown winner Tom Fool. Tim Tam's sire, the great Tom FoolHis dam, Two Lea, was a champion as well, having carried the famed red and blue silks of Calumet through two divisional championships with her most famous victory coming in the 1952 Hollywood Gold Cup. Both Two Lea and Tom Fool are members of the Hall of Fame.
Tim Tam's dam Two Lea wins the Hollywood Gold Cup Two Leas's sire Bull Lea was America's leading sire on five occasions, and her dam Two Bob was a stakes winning daughter of The Porter. Two Bob's second dam was by the champion Friar Rock. Tom Fool was sired by divisional champion Menow, and his second dam was by two-time Horse of the Year Equipoise.

Late in his yearling year, Tim Tam suffered an accident in the Calumet Farm paddock. The sprained fetlock he suffered when another yearling fell on him seriously delayed his career. It was not until October that trainer Jimmy Jones was able to send the colt out to begin his freshman campaign.

In his only start at two, Tim Tam faced a field of twelve in a six furlong maiden special weight over a sloppy track at Garden State. In the saddle was top rider Bill Hartack. The Calumet colt broke slowly, but was starting to make up ground when the wire came too early. He finished fourth, but was only a head short of third money, and had demonstrated both closing ability and gameness.

Tim Tam's lack of experience as a juvenile forced Jimmy Jones to run the son of Tom Fool frequently in the spring of his sophomore campaign. In his pre-Derby campaign, Tim Tam went to post more often than any Kentucky Derby winner has since.

He started the Derby trail with an allowance race at Hialeah. The distance was again only six furlongs, but this time the son of Tom Fool broke well, easily scoring a two and a half length win. Three days later he repeated the performance, this time over seven furlongs, and in the mud rather than on a fast track.

Next time out it was back to six furlongs, and despite a strong closing drive Tim Tam could do no better than third. The race was won by his stablemate, Calumet Farm homebred Kentucky Pride.

Timmy next tried his first stakes event, the seven furlong Bahamas Stakes. He ran third, a nose behind place finisher Kentucky Pride. His strong finish again hinted at stretch running ability and future promise.

Tim Tam's first stakes victory came in the Everglades Stakes, with Bill Hartack back in the saddle. Sixth behind the front running Yemen in the early going, the colt slipped between entry-mate Kentucky Pride and the rail to win by a length and a quarter without much effort. Show finisher Liberty Ruler was another six lengths back.

It was in the Flamingo Stakes that Tim Tam first met the previous year's top two juveniles, Jewel's Reward, fresh off a victorious season debut, and Garden State Stakes winner Nadir. After a furious battle in the homestretch, Jewel's Reward stuck his head in front at the wire, only be disqualified for repeatedly bumping the Calumet entry. The stewards' decision took so long that Tim Tam missed the winner's circle ceremony, having already headed back to the barn, and Mrs. Gene Markey accepted the trophy in the director's room. Claiborne Farm's Nadir and his one million dollar pricetag finished fourth.

In the Fountain of Youth Stakes, Tim Tam romped home two lengths in front of Grey Monarch, to whomTim Tam at Hialeah he conceded three pounds.

Tim Tam's next start came in the Florida Derby. Bill Hartack, who had won the race on Calumet Farm's brilliant Gen. Duke the year before, was once again up on Tim Tam. In the backstretch, 75-1 longshot Lincoln Road was showing the way by six lengths, with Tim Tam stalking him patiently. As they turned for home, the Calumet colt moved into striking range, then caught and drew past the leader to win by a half length. Lincoln Road held on for second money, with Grey Monarch another seven lengths back. Bill Hartack described the race:

"I felt I was on the best horse but in the early part of the race it looked a little tough. Once I got him to running I was convinced I'd get there."

While Tim Tam was the rising star of Florida, capturing the Everglades, Flamingo, and Fountain of Youth Stakes as well as the Florida Derby, a big chestnut son of the Irish bred stallion *Sullivan was capturing the nation's attention with a series of come-from-behind victories in California. Silky Sullivan had first stepped into the spotlight by winning the Golden Gate Futurity as a two-year-old, having been twenty-seven lengths off the lead at the half mile mark. When Silky came from almost thirty lengths back to take the Santa Anita Derby, reporters compared him to everything from Man o' War to football hero Red Grange, and the press faithfully reported his every move.

Another major contender for the classics was Maine Chance Farm's Jewel's Reward. Voted Champion Juvenile Colt and assigned the high weight in the Experimental Free Handicap, the bay son of Jet Jewel and Belle Jeep had the Wood Memorial Stakes to his credit at three. His Flamingo Stakes loss to Tim Tam had been by disqualification, and the pair had not met since.

Before arriving at Churchill Downs, Tim Tam ran once at Keeneland, winning an allowance race by an authoritative half length over Nadir.

Jewel's Reward, Tim Tam, and the other Derby horses were virtually ignored by the Silky Sullivan worshiping press as Derby day approached. While Tim Tam worked six furlongs in 1:14 3/5, television cameras followed Silky Sullivan through a routine gallop. The California star's following even remained strong after he ran fourth behind Beleau Chief in the Stepping Stone, just one week before the Derby. CBS went so far as to set up special cameras to follow Silky Sullivan's predicted come-from-behind stretch drive on the first Saturday in May.

Calumet Farm had routinely used the Derby Trial Stakes as a final test for their Derby hopefuls. Ben Jones had first used the race in 1938, before he came to Calumet. That year, his colt Lawrin ran second in the Trial, then wore the roses on Derby Day. Calumet's first Derby winner, Whirlaway, came off a loss in the Trial, and both Citation and Hill Gail won the event before scoring in the Run for the Roses. Calumet had also won the race with Ocean Wave in 1943, Faultless in 1947, Fanfare in 1951, and Fabius in 1956. Both Faultless and Fabius went on to win the Preakness Stakes.

For Tim Tam, the race was important because it was his first under Ismael Valenzuala, who was replacing an injured Bill Hartack. Tim Tam's regular rider had suffered a broken leg the Saturday before, compliments of the two-year-old filly Quail Egg, who had attempted to flip herself over in the starting gate. The field that Tim Tam met in the Derby Trial Stakes included Ebony Pearl, stablemate to Jewel's Reward, as well as Nadir, the high priced juvenile star from Claiborne Farm. Timmy, as usual, ran well off the lead, making his drive just in time to catch Ebony Pearl in a heart-stopping finish and win by a neck.

By Derby Day, Tim Tam had run ten times as a three-year-old, winning on eight occasions. Ismael Valenzuala was aboard the Calumet colt for the big event. Bill Shoemaker, who had the mount on Silky Sullivan, had been taking his share of ribbing for his ride on Gallant Man the previous year, and Maine Chance Farm's Jewel's Reward, the technical favorite, was ridden by five time Derby victor Eddie Arcaro.

Lincoln Road, with Chris Rogers in the irons, led in the early going, while Tim Tam and Ismael Valenzuela bided their time. Silky Sullivan trailed the field, as expected. As the field turned for home, Tim Tam made his move and overtook Lincoln Road to win by a half length. It was the seventh Kentucky Derby victory for Calumet Farm.

Silky Sullivan was twelfth after only a brief bid on the turn. Although Tim Tam wore the roses, Silky Sullivan still claimed half of the headlines, even in defeat. The next morning's New York Times read "Tim Tam wins $160,500 Derby; Silky Sullivan Twelfth."

Tim Tam wears roses

Next it was on to Pimlico, where Tim Tam went to post as the 11-to-10 favorite in the Preakness Stakes. Jewel's Reward, who had finished fourth as the top choice in the Derby, was second in the betting. The reigning star of Calumet overcame minor traffic problems at the break to score a businesslike victory, passing his game rival Lincoln Road with a strong finish to win by a length and a half. Gone Fishin' barely held off 125-1 longshot Plion to claim the show purse in a photo, and Silky Sullivan was eighth.

Attendance was higher for Tim Tam's attempted Triple Crown than it had been ten years before, when the great Citation had turned the trick for Calumet. The crowd of 44,025 made the son of Tom Fool the 3-to-20 favorite, and he seemed a sure winner as he began to move past horses on the far turn. Then the young star failed to respond to Valenzuela's urging in the stretch, drifting noticeably in both directions, and Peter Pan Handicap winner Cavan slipped by on the rail. While the Irish-bred colt opened up a six length lead, Tim Tam gamely struggled home, beating Flamingo by five and a half lengths, but unable to catch the winner.

The celebration for Cavan was short-lived as Tim Tam was unsaddled on the clubhouse turn and loaded onto a horse ambulance. Ismael Valenzuela described the race:

"Everything was going along fine until the quarter pole, when I asked him to move up to that other horse. He started up and then started to veer out. Then he flattened out completely, and when I got him pulled up on the turn he was sore."

Jimmy Jones immediately ordered a radiograph, which the next morning revealed a badly broken sesamoid. On June 12, a heartbroken Jimmy Jones reported to the press:

"I guess he's through. I haven't any hope he'll race again. He's ruined, and I figure that all we can do is save him for stud."

Life continues, however. The same day that he announced Tim Tam's forced retirement, Jimmy Jones saddled A Glitter, granddaughter of Calumet champion Twilight Tear, to win the Ashford Purse. The filly later went on to win the Coaching Club American Oaks.

Tim Tam left Calumet's successful racing stable for the University of Pennsylvania, where Dr. Jacques Jenny and Dr. Charles Raker performed the hour and twenty-two minutes of surgery which saved his life, if not his racing career. After the fourteen chips of sesamoid bone were removed, he returned to Kentucky to rest. As a three-year-old, Tim Tam had never been out of the money, scoring ten victories, a second, and two thirds in thirteen starts. Despite the abruptly interrupted racing season, his triumphs in the first two classics were enough to earn the title Champion Three-Year-Old Colt. Some hoped that the Kentucky Derby winner might race again, but Tim Tam did not return to the track, and instead was permanently retired to stud.

Standing at Calumet Farm, Tim Tam sired Tosmah, who earned three divisional championships in 1963 and 1964, winning such races as the Arlington Classic and the Beldame Stakes. He was the broodmare sire of Calumet's Davona Dale, who won the NYRA Filly Triple Crown in 1979, in addition to the Kentucky Oaks and the Fantasy Stakes, on her way to honors as the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly. Before Dawn, the juvenile filly champion of 1981, was out of Moonbeam, a daughter of Tim Tam and A Gleam. Tim Tam's daughters also produced 1978 Turf Champion Mac Diarmida, Metropolitan Handicap winner Tentam, and 1980 Two Thousand Guineas winner Known Fact, named Champion Three-Year-Old Colt in England in 1980. Tim Tam passed away in 1982, and is buried at Calumet Farm. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Said Jimmy Jones of the dual classic winner:

" . . . whenever they talk about a thoroughbred and all that term implies in the way of courage and class, I'll always think of Tim Tam . . . "

Tim Tam's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 14 10 1 2 $467,475

Tim Tam, 1955 dark bay colt

Tom Fool Menow Pharamond II Phalaris
Alcibiades Supremus
Regal Roman
Gaga Bull Dog Teddy
Plucky Liege
Alpoise Equipoise
Laughing Queen
Two Lea Bull Lea Bull Dog Teddy
Plucky Liege
Rose Leaves Ballot
Two Bob The Porter Sweep
Ballet Girl
Blessings Chicle
Mission Bells


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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