Tom Fool

Tom Fool (March 31, 1949 – August 20, 1976) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse, a winner of the American Horse of the Year award and a Hall of Fame inductee. He sired the outstanding racehorses Buckpasser and Tim Tam.


Owned by Greentree Stables, Tom Fool was bred by Duval Headley, a Thoroughbred trainer and nephew of prominent Kentucky breeder Hal Price Headley. Tom Fool was a bay colt by the racehorse and sire Menow out of Gaga by Pharamond II. He was a half-brother to the good two-year-old Aunt Jinny, and was a great-grandson of the broodmare Laughing Queen, whose other descendants included the Kentucky Derby winner Dust Commander. Greentree Stables purchased Tom Fool privately as a yearling for $20,000.

Racing record

Tom Fool was trained by John M. Gaver, Sr. and ridden by Ted Atkinson. In his two-year-old season, he had five wins and two seconds in seven starts, which earned him Champion 2-Year-Old Colt honors for 1951.

After he finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes at age 3, the horse's veterinarian discovered he had raced with a high fever. The illness sidelined Tom Fool for more than two months, and he missed the Triple Crown races. Although his 1952 season was difficult, he won the majority of his races.

In 1953, a healthy four-year-old Tom Fool was undefeated in ten races, He won at distances ranging from 5½ furlongs to 1¼ miles and became only the second horse to win New York's Handicap Triple Crown: the Metropolitan, Suburban and Brooklyn Handicaps. Tom Fool also won the Whitney Stakes and captured the Pimlico Special by eight lengths. This final start was a win that concluded a perfect four-year-old campaign with 10 stakes wins in as many starts. The Pimlico Special was his fourth consecutive race start in a non-betting race; by this time, few horses were entered against him. In polls to determine Horse of the Year honors, Tom Fool topped polls by the Thoroughbred Racing Association (34 of a possible 37 votes) and Triangle Publications (30 of 31).

Tom Fool retired with a record of 30 starts for 21 wins, 7 seconds and 1 third for earnings of $570,165.

Stud career

Tom Fool was syndicated for $1,750,000, as a stallion and initially stood for a $5,000 service fee. He sired the winners of over 650 races in America and England, with over 30 stakes winners, including:
  • Buckpasser - 1966 U.S. Horse of the Year, U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee
  • Silly Season (USA), England’s leading two-year-old of 1964 and sire of Lunchtime, a good sire in Australia.
  • Tim Tam - won Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee
  • Tompion - multiple stakes winner, including Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Travers Stakes in 1960

    Tom Fool's bloodline endures in the 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, who is both a sixth- and seventh-generation descendant.


    Tom Fool was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1960. In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, he was ranked #11. The Tom Fool Handicap, contested at Belmont Park, is named in his honor.

    Tom Fool retired from stud duties in 1972 and died on 20 August 1976.