By Mint Julep


Tomy Lee Kentucky Derby Winner 1959

tomy lee kentucky derby winner 1959

Join us on an exciting adventure as we dive into the impressive career of Tomy Lee, the incredible racehorse who won the 1959 Kentucky Derby. Discover all about Tomy Lee’s breeding, training, and victorious races with jockey Bill Shoemaker leading the way. Learn more about this legendary champion whose name remains a significant part of horse racing history.

Tomy Lee’s Early Life and Background

Tomy Lee, an exceptional Thoroughbred racehorse from the United Kingdom, was carefully bred by the respected Captain David H. Wills. His lineage boasted excellence and promise, setting the stage for his remarkable performances on the racetrack.

From birth, Tomy Lee’s pedigree was extraordinary thanks to Captain David H. Wills’ keen breeding skills. The meticulous selection of bloodlines and attention to detail in every aspect of Tomy Lee’s ancestry made him stand out as a horse destined for greatness with proper guidance.

Beneath his shiny coat and strong physique were generations of careful planning and expertise in equine genetics, all due to Captain David H. Wills’ dedication to producing top-notch racehorses like Tomy Lee. This combination of heritage and thoughtful breeding drove Tomy Lee towards his unforgettable moment at the 1959 Kentucky Derby.

The echoes of history resound when we remember how Tomy Lee raced across Churchill Downs with grace and determination under jockey Bill Shoemaker’s skilled direction. Their partnership represented not just teamwork but an unbreakable bond between man and horse striving for victory against all odds—a tale forever etched in racing lore thanks to their memorable triumph at America’s most prestigious horseracing event.

Path to Victory: the 1959 Kentucky Derby

Trained by the experienced Frank E. Childs and owned by the respected Fred W. & Juliette M. Turner Jr., Tomy Lee made history in May 1959 at Churchill Downs, winning a prestigious Grade I stakes race.

With Bill Shoemaker guiding him, Tomy Lee impressed everyone with his incredible speed and stamina, leaving fans in awe as he outpaced his rivals to claim victory.

This win not only solidified Tomy Lee’s status as a legendary horse but also showcased Captain David H. Wills’ exceptional breeding skills that transformed him into a champion racer destined for greatness on the track for many years to come.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. Racing icons motivate upcoming racers for the future.
  2. They demonstrate outstanding talent and drive in racing.
  3. Their accomplishments enrich the long history of the sport.
  4. Racing legends frequently serve as role models for fans globally.
  5. They inject excitement and adrenaline into racing.
  6. Their tales of triumph can inspire people to chase their aspirations.


  1. Feeling like you have to keep up a legendary status might be really stressful.
  2. Racing stars could struggle with managing their personal life alongside their career demands.
  3. Getting hurt in races can seriously impact your health for a long time.
  4. The intense competition in racing can make you feel super stressed and anxious.
  5. Having everyone watch you and the media always paying attention might invade your privacy.
  6. The physical strain from racing could really wear down on how healthy you feel overall.

Notable Competitors and Results

Tomy Lee found himself up against some tough competition in the 85th Kentucky Derby. Horses like Sword Dancer, ridden by William Boland, and First Landing with Eddie Arcaro as the jockey were vying for victory. Despite the strong contenders, Tomy Lee’s exceptional performance under pressure secured his win at Churchill Downs.

The 1959 Kentucky Derby victory was not just about speed for Tomy Lee; it also showcased how Captain David H. Wills’ smart breeding choices had shaped him into a champion racehorse. The combination of Tudor Minstrel’s bloodlines and Auld Alliance lineage proved to be a winning formula on the racetrack.

Bill Shoemaker played a crucial role in guiding Tomy Lee to success during the race at Churchill Downs. His expert handling and strategic moves highlighted his unmatched talent as a jockey. Together, Tomy Lee and Bill Shoemaker made history that continues to inspire racing fans worldwide today.

Breeder’s Influence: Captain David H. Wills

Captain David H. Wills from the U.K. showed off his breeding skills when Tomy Lee won big at the 1959 Kentucky Derby. By carefully choosing which horses to breed and understanding their family history, Wills made a champion racehorse that could win on one of horse racing’s biggest stages.

Wills had a special talent for picking out great horses, like he did with Tomy Lee. He looked closely at their family trees and how they performed in races to create a winning combination that left its mark on the world of horse racing.

Tomy Lee didn’t just luck into victory under Bill Shoemaker’s guidance; it was all about skill—both from the horse and the jockey working together perfectly. The teamwork between rider and steed displayed finesse, determination, and sheer willpower that drew in audiences worldwide.

In horse racing history books, Tomy Lee shines as an example of excellence—a reminder of what hard work, persistence, and belief in oneself can accomplish. Captain David H. Wills’ impact is still felt today with every hoofbeat echoing the legacy he helped build—the legacy that immortalizes Tomy Lee not only as a winner but as a symbol of pure equine grace and power on the racetrack

1959 Kentucky Derby: Race Results Snapshot

Finished Post Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Time / behind
1st 8 Tomy Lee Bill Shoemaker Frank E. Childs Fred W. & Juliette M. Turner Jr.
2nd 10 Sword Dancer William Boland J. Elliott Burch Brookmeade Stable
3rd 4 First Landing Eddie Arcaro Casey Hayes Meadow Stable
4th 11 Royal Orbit William Harmatz Reggie Cornell Halina Gregory Braunstein
5th 5 Silver Spoon Raymond York Robert L. Wheeler Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
6th 7 Finnegan Johnny Longden William B. Finnegan Neil S. McCarthy
7th 12 Dunce Steve Brooks Moody S. Jolley Claiborne Farm
8th 1A Open View Karl Korte Raymond F. Metcalf Elkcam Stable (Mackle brothers)
9th 1 Atoll Samuel Boulmetis Raymond F. Metcalf Elkcam Stable (Mackle brothers) & Lou Chesler
10th 3 Rico Tesio Manuel Ycaza Joseph F. Piarulli Briardale Farm (Anthony Imbesi)
11th 16 Festival King William Carstens E. William Kuykendall Cecil B. Fischbach
12th 9 John Bruce Kenneth Church Charles P. Sanborn Kenneth G. Marshall
13th 6 Easy Spur Bill Hartack Paul L. Kelley Spring Hill Farm
14th 17 The Chosen One Jimmy Combest Norman L. Haymaker Mrs. S. Helene Sadacca
15th 2 Our Dad Pete D. Anderson Hirsch Jacobs Patrice Jacobs
16th 15 Die Hard Johnny Sellers Joseph M. Bollero Jacnot Stable (Jack R. Hogan)
17th 13 Troilus Chris Rogers Charles Peoples Bayard Sharp

Legacy of Triumph: Impact on Horse Racing

In 1959, Tomy Lee won the Kentucky Derby and became a legendary champion in horse racing. His victory showed his hard work, expert skills, and smart race strategies that are still admired today in the history of this famous event.

Tomy Lee made a big impact on horse racing by setting high standards for excellence in the sport. Captain David H. Wills carefully chose how to breed Tomy Lee to make him a super-fast and strong racehorse. Bill Shoemaker’s excellent coaching helped turn Tomy Lee into a symbol of talent and determination that inspired many young jockeys and trainers.

Tomy Lee’s legacy goes beyond just winning at Churchill Downs; it proves that dedication can lead to success on the track. Alongside other famous horses, he has left his mark on fans all over the world. Every time horses run on racetracks now, they carry forward his inspiring spirit – showing us that real champions face challenges with strength as well as winning races.

Enduring Memory: Celebrating Tomy Lee’s Win

The victory of Tomy Lee at the 1959 Kentucky Derby still captivates horse racing fans worldwide through historical records, captivating photographs, and exciting storytelling. Every year, as enthusiasts come together to witness new champions rise at Churchill Downs, they celebrate past winners like Tomy Lee who left their mark on racing history.

Tomy Lee was a product of Captain David H. Wills’ brilliant breeding strategy that brought together the best bloodlines from England and America. This combination gave birth to a colt with exceptional speed, endurance, and spirit—the perfect trifecta every breeder aims for.

As Tomy Lee raced down the homestretch under Bill Shoemaker’s expert guidance during the 1959 Kentucky Derby, it wasn’t just any race; it was a breathtaking display of skill in motion. The seamless coordination between horse and jockey felt almost telepathic amidst the cheers of the crowd.

Their victory represented not only talent but also sheer determination—a powerful reminder that success is about more than just skills; it’s about heart and resilience. It served as an inspiration for young jockeys and breeders: highlighting how perseverance combined with unwavering belief in oneself can lead to greatness beyond imagination.

Looking back today at Tomy Lee’s triumph over his competitors on that memorable day in May 1959 doesn’t just show us a horse crossing a finish line; it reveals excellence honed through years of dedication and hard work—proof that true greatness isn’t achieved overnight but is crafted through sweat, tears, and an unrelenting passion for one’s craft.

Fascinating Tales Surrounding Tomy Lee’s Derby Triumph

  1. ### Exciting Stories About Tomy Lee’s Big Win at the Derby
  2. **Unexpected Triumph:** Back in 1959, Tomy Lee, a horse from Britain, wasn’t expected to win the Kentucky Derby. But with Frank Childs as his trainer and jockey Bill Shoemaker on board, he shocked everyone by clinching victory in this famous race.
  3. **Fast time:** During the 1959 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Tomy Lee completed the 1 1/4 mile race in just 2:02 1/5. This time was considered  very fast compared to earlier years.
  4. **Chasing Triple Crown Glory:** Following his impressive win at the Kentucky Derby, Tomy Lee did not compete in the Preakness Stakes due to the trainer’s preference to rest him. Although missing out on winning all three races of the Triple Crown series, his strong showings left a lasting mark on racing history.
  5. **Global Recognition:** Tomy Lee’s victory at the Kentucky Derby drew attention from around the world to horse racing’s excitement and thrills. His success showcased how international and thrilling this sport can be while inspiring fans globally.
  6. **Legendary Status**: The triumph of Tomy Lee in winning the 1959 Kentucky Derby firmly secured his spot among horse racing legends forevermore! Celebrated far and wide as an example of just how unpredictable and exhilarating racing can truly be – his story lives on today as a testament to that spirit!


1. What was the significance of Tomy Lee’s victory at the 1959 Kentucky Derby in the world of horse racing?

In 1959, Tomy Lee won the Kentucky Derby thanks to Captain David H. Wills’ expert breeding skills and Bill Shoemaker’s exceptional jockeying. This victory firmly established Tomy Lee as a legendary champion in the history of horse racing.

2. How did Captain David H. Wills’ breeding expertise contribute to Tomy Lee’s success on the racetrack?

Captain David H. Wills used his skills in breeding to help turn Tomy Lee into a top-notch racehorse by choosing and combining bloodlines that boosted the horse’s speed, endurance, and overall racing abilities.

3. Who was Tomy Lee’s jockey during his triumphant run at the 1959 Kentucky Derby?

Bill Shoemaker rode Tomy Lee to victory in the 1959 Kentucky Derby as his jockey.

4. What set Tomy Lee apart from other racehorses of his time, leading to his legendary status in racing history?

Captain David H. Wills bred Tomy Lee exceptionally well and guided him to a remarkable victory at the 1959 Kentucky Derby with expert help from Bill Shoemaker, establishing his legendary status in racing history.

5. How did Tomy Lee’s performance at the Kentucky Derby impact his legacy in the sport of horse racing?

In 1959, Tomy Lee won the Kentucky Derby in an outstanding display of talent and determination. This victory established him as a champion in horse racing, showcasing his superior breeding and skill on the racetrack.

6. What qualities did Bill Shoemaker bring to his partnership with Tomy Lee that helped secure their victory at the 1959 Kentucky Derby?

Bill Shoemaker’s exceptional talent, years of experience, and thorough knowledge of Tomy Lee’s capabilities as a jockey played a crucial role in clinching their win at the 1959 Kentucky Derby.