By Mint Julep

Herbert J. Thompson Trainer: Four Kentucky Derby Winners

behave yourself 1921 kentucky derby winner

Join the incredible journey of Herbert J. Thompson, a renowned horse trainer who made a lasting impact on Thoroughbred racing history with his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication. Explore his impressive accomplishments, such as training four Kentucky Derby champions and leading many other horses to victory in prestigious races like the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Delve into Thompson’s legacy, from being honored in the Hall of Fame to shaping American horse racing as one of its most respected figures.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Herbert John, also known as “Dick” Thompson, is celebrated as a legendary figure in American horse racing history. He began his successful career at Edward R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Stock Farm near Lexington, Kentucky in 1916 under the guidance of Cliff Hammon. With a strong commitment to mastering the training of top-notch Thoroughbreds, Thompson quickly moved up the ranks.

Thompson’s rise in the racing world was marked by his exceptional skills and unmatched work ethic. When Hammon passed away unexpectedly in July 1918, Thompson admirably took on the role of leading the stable temporarily before officially becoming head trainer just a few months later in March 1919.

His early years at Idle Hour Stock Farm set a solid foundation for what turned out to be an extraordinary legacy in horse racing circles. By paying close attention to details and having a deep understanding of equine behavior and physiology, Thompson improved his craft daily.

The shift from assistant trainer to head trainer not only changed his title but also demonstrated Thompson’s increasing expertise and leadership abilities within one of Kentucky’s most respected stables during that time period. It was here that he started developing his unique method for conditioning champion racehorses—a technique that would soon captivate fans and critics alike at racetracks across the country.

As he entered this new phase of professional development, little did anyone know then that Herbert J. Thompson was on the brink of making lasting achievements—ultimately leaving an unforgettable mark on Thoroughbred history for future generations to appreciate and cherish deeply.

Training Success and Major Wins

Herbert J. Thompson had an impressive career filled with winning moments that shine bright like diamonds on the racetrack, making him a legend in horse racing history. He was like an artist painting masterpieces, turning raw talent into champions and bringing dreams to life under the sun at racetracks all over America.

In 1921, Thompson celebrated his first victory at the Derby when Behave Yourself raced down Churchill Downs to claim the win. This success not only marked a significant moment for Thompson but also propelled him towards becoming one of the most respected trainers in Thoroughbred racing history.

Thompson’s magic touch struck again in 1926 when he trained Bubbling Over, another Kentucky Derby winner known for its fiery spirit that matched its trainer’s determination. With each step these incredible horses took under his guidance, Thompson solidified his legacy on the prestigious grounds where champions are made and remembered forever.

Like a modern-day Midas, Herbert J. Thompson continued to achieve remarkable success at top races throughout his brilliant career. The unbreakable spirit he instilled in every horse he trained transformed them into symbols of speed and grace charging towards greatness with every stride—a lasting tribute to a master who used passion, skill, and unwavering dedication to strive for perfection on the track.

The Pros & Cons of Equine Training Techniques


  1. Boosts the horse's strength and speed

  2. Sharpens the horse's concentration and self-control

  3. Strengthens the connection between trainer and horse

  4. Reduces the risk of injuries with consistent training

  5. Maximizes the horse's athletic abilities

  6. Customized training can target specific weaknesses or areas for growth


  1. Pushing horses too hard can cause them to get hurt or tired out.

  2. If a trainer doesn't use the right techniques, it might slow down how quickly a horse learns.

  3. When there's not good communication between the person training and the horse, they might not understand each other well.

  4. Being too tough on a horse during training can make them lose trust and feel unsure of themselves.

  5. Changing up how you train your horse all the time can lead to different outcomes each time.

  6. Not keeping an eye on your horse properly while training could be risky for both of you in terms of safety.

Notable Champions Trained

Herbert J. Thompson had a successful career as a horse trainer, working with some amazing horses over the years. From Blue Larkspur, who won American Horse of the Year in 1929, to Baba Kenny, an impressive American Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in 1930, each champion that Thompson trained made a lasting impact on racing history.

One standout among these champions was Burgoo King, who dominated as the American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse in 1932. Under Thompson’s guidance, Burgoo King achieved great success and became known as one of the top Thoroughbreds of his time.

Thompson also helped shape Barn Swallow into an American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in 1933 through his expert training and care. By nurturing her talent and guiding her on the racetrack, he showcased his exceptional skills as a trainer.

Another star under Thompson’s tutelage was Balladier – named American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse in 1934 – highlighting Thompson’s ability to work with young talent effectively. He demonstrated both potential and promise under Thompson’s watchful eye.

The combined achievements of these remarkable horses not only demonstrate Herbert J. Thompson’s outstanding abilities but also emphasize his enduring influence on Thoroughbred racing history. His knack for turning raw talent into champions showcases his dedication to excellence within the sport—a legacy that continues to inspire trainers and fans today.

Hall of Fame Recognition

Herbert J. Thompson made a huge impact on Thoroughbred horse racing and became one of the most successful trainers in history. Even after his passing, he was honored by being inducted into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame in 1969. This special recognition celebrated his legacy and the significant mark he left on the sport.

Thompson’s entry into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame not only acknowledged his incredible accomplishments but also underlined how much he influenced American horse racing.

Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame shows just how talented Thompson was, as well as how dedicated he remained to making a lasting impression on future generations of trainers and racehorses alike.

Legendary Trainer: Herbert John Thompson

Field Information
Full Name Herbert John "Dick" Thompson
Occupation Trainer
Born September 21, 1881
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died November 12, 1937 (aged 56)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Resting Place Calvary Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky
Career Wins 373
Major Racing Wins – Golden Rod Stakes (1919)
– Clipsetta Stakes (1920)
– Debutante Stakes (1920)
– Ben Ali Handicap (1921)
– Blue Grass Stakes (1921, 1922, 1926)
– Falls City Handicap (1921)
– Laurel Futurity Stakes (1922, 1923)
– Raceland Derby (1924)
– Latonia Derby (1925)
– Juvenile Stakes (1928)
– National Stallion Stakes (1928)
– Saratoga Special Stakes (1928)
– American Legion Handicap (1929)
– Delaware Handicap (1929)
– Withers Stakes (1929)
– Arlington Classic (1929)
– Matron Stakes (1930, 1932)
– Stars and Stripes Handicap (1930)
– Acorn Stakes (1931)
– Wilson Stakes (1931)
– Alabama Stakes (1933)
– Hopeful Stakes (1933)
– Kentucky Oaks (1933)
– Test Stakes (1934)
– United States Hotel Stakes (1934)
– Champagne Stakes (1934)
– Walden Stakes (1936)
Triple Crown race wins:
– Kentucky Derby (1921, 1926, 1932, 1933)
– Preakness Stakes (1932)
– Belmont Stakes (1929)
Honors U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1969)
Significant Horses – Baba Kenny
– Balladier
– Barn Swallow
– Behave Yourself
– Blue Larkspur
– Brokers Tip
– Bubbling Over
– Burgoo King

Legacy of Triple Crown Victories

Herbert J. Thompson’s incredible success as a horse trainer shines brightly through his amazing achievement of coaching four Kentucky Derby champions to victory, securing his place in the history books of Thoroughbred racing. His skill in turning these horse athletes into winners showed an exceptional talent that few could match.

Thompson didn’t just rely on his training skills; he had a deep understanding of each horse he worked with, shaping them into champions with careful attention and expertise. By forming strong connections with these magnificent creatures, he unlocked their full potential on the racetrack, guiding them to victory after victory.

The legacy left behind by Thompson echoes through the esteemed world of horse racing stories, not only for his Triple Crown wins but also for how he influenced future trainers and racehorses. The impact of his successes continues to inspire wonder and respect among those who love the sport and appreciate its rich history filled with legends like him.

In recognizing Herbert J. Thompson’s impressive career as a master in horsemanship, one cannot ignore the magnitude of what he achieved – transforming raw talent into shining stars that dazzled under the bright lights of prestigious races such as the Kentucky Derby. His lasting influence on American horse racing serves as proof of dedication, passion, and an unwavering commitment to excellence that transcends generations.

Resting Place and Commemoration

After his death on November 12, 1937, Herbert J. Thompson was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky. This marked a fitting tribute to his enduring impact as a respected figure in the world of Thoroughbred racing.

Thompson’s legacy lives on through his well-deserved entry into the U.S Racing Hall of Fame and ongoing acknowledgment for molding champions on the racetrack.

His influence is still felt today whenever people mention the four Kentucky Derby winners he trained: Behave Yourself (1921), Bubbling Over (1926), Burgoo King (1932), and Brokers Tip (1933).

In horse racing history, Thompson’s name stands tall among legends who have made a lasting impression on the sport; his skill as a trainer immortalized by victories that resonate through time.

Legendary Stories of Derby Champions Mentored by Thompson

  1. Legendary Tales of Derby Champions Coached by Thompson:

  2. In 1921, Charles Thompson rode "Behave Yourself," the first horse trained by Thompson to win the Kentucky Derby. Owned by H.P. Whitney stable, the colt triumphed in a tight race, kickstarting Thompson's successful career as a trainer.

  3. Fast forward to 1926 when Albert Johnson rode "Bubbling Over," another champion coached by Thompson, to victory at the Kentucky Derby with an astounding six-length lead. This win solidified Thompson's standing as one of racing's top trainers.

  4. The year 1930 saw Earl Sande ride "Gallant Fox" to success at the Kentucky Derby under Thompson's guidance. Gallant Fox not only won that race but also went on to clinch the Triple Crown—a rare accomplishment achieved only twice in history up until then.

  5. "Brokers Tip" was yet another star from Thompson’s stable who secured a thrilling victory at the 1933 Kentucky Derby with jockey Don Meade on board – edging out Head Play for first place in a nail-biting finish and securing his fourth derby title.

  6. Throughout his illustrious career, Herbert J. Thomson nurtured and honed some of racing’s finest steeds—leaving an indelible mark on this sport we love so dearly today! His four wins at the prestigious event firmly established him among his era’s most celebrated trainers, and his legacy continues brightening horseracing circles even now!


1. What made Herbert J. Thompson such a legendary figure in the world of horse racing?

Herbert J. Thompson became a legend in the horse racing world because he trained four Kentucky Derby champions, won the Triple Crown, and left a lasting mark on Thoroughbred racing history.

2. Which four horses did Herbert J. Thompson train to victory in the Kentucky Derby?

Herbert J. Thompson coached four winning Kentucky Derby champions: Behave Yourself in 1921, Bubbling Over in 1926, Burgoo King in 1932, and Brokers Tip in 1933.

3. How did Thompson's training methods differ from other trainers of his time?

Herbert J. Thompson stood out from his peers with his cutting-edge training techniques, focusing on patience, consistency, and a thorough grasp of every horse's unique requirements to develop champions that excelled in the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races.

4. What impact did Herbert J. Thompson have on the history and evolution of Thoroughbred racing in America?

Herbert J. Thompson became a legendary trainer by leading four Kentucky Derby champions, including three Triple Crown winners. His incredible success not only earned him a spot in the Racing Hall of Fame but also greatly influenced the history of Thoroughbred racing in America. He shaped the sport and motivated many trainers and fans for years to come.

5. Can you elaborate on Thompson's journey to being inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame?

In 1974, Herbert J. Thompson was honored by being inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. This recognition showcased his exceptional talent and commitment as a trainer. He had led four Kentucky Derby champions to victory, making a lasting impact on the world of Thoroughbred racing history.

6. How has Herbert J. Thompson's legacy continued to influence modern-day horse training techniques and strategies?

Herbert J. Thompson's groundbreaking methods and unwavering commitment to excellence have significantly influenced today's horse training techniques. His success in producing champion horses has made a lasting impact on the world of Thoroughbred racing, shaping it into what it is today.