The Foxes of Belair: Gallant Fox, Omaha, and the Quest for the Triple Crown, by Jennifer Kelly

The Foxes of Belair: Gallant Fox, Omaha, and the Quest for the Triple Crown, by Jennifer Kelly

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In the decades since the formation of the Triple Crown, only one father-son combination has won the Triple Crown: Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935.

While astute racing fans might know that piece of trivia, they might not know that both were bred by Belair Stud, a legendary breeding farm founded in 1747 and brought to prominence by the Woodward family in the early 20th century.

Jennifer Kelly takes a dive into Gallant Fox and Omaha’s careers and Belair’s influence on the breed in her new book. She tells the story of William Woodward Sr., who inherited the farm and, with some partners, imported the stallion *Sir Gallahad III. The son of *Teddy went on to become a four-time leading sire, with Gallant Fox his most notable offspring. Both Triple Crown champions were trained by “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, who became Belair’s trainer in the 1920s and went on to a Hall of Fame career conditioning Belair horses.

During his career, Gallant Fox was considered the best horse since Man o’ War and attracted a considerable following. In fact, the phrase “Triple Crown” was coined following his Belmont Stakes win. Kelly takes a close look at each of his major wins, including his Belmont triumph over arch-rival Whichone and his shocking defeat in the Travers Stakes at the hands of Jim Dandy.

Omaha was a member of Gallant Fox’s first crop, and ascended to Triple Crown glory of his own. He carved his unique place in American racing history as a 4-year-old, when he shipped to England to contest the Ascot Gold Cup in 1936. Omaha gave a great account of himself in the 2 1/2-mile race, engaging in a stirring stretch duel with Quashed and just missing to finish second, giving American racing overseas credibility.

Though Gallant Fox and Omaha were tremendous horses, they tend to be overshadowed by latter-day Triple Crown winners, and the dominance of Belair Stud often goes overlooked. Kelly ensures their legacy is not forgotten with this book. It flows neatly, providing everything the reader needs to know about each of Gallant Fox and Omaha’s races without overwhelming them. Someone can go in knowing little about either one and come away with thorough knowledge.

Towards the end of the book, Kelly mentions the importance of the Foxes of Belair in the history of racing: “Gallant Fox’s record-breaking season and Omaha’s status as the lone Triple Crown victor to race in England not only helped make the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes the heart of the American racing calendar but also set a standard for future generations to aspire to: one horse with the right balance of speed, stamina, and heart to outrun and outlast every challenger.”