James Edward “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons was born only July 23, 1874 in Brooklyn, New York. As a 10-year-old, he went to work as a stable boy at Sheepshead Bay before becoming a jockey. Once he became too big for race riding, Fitzsimmons turned to training.
Known as “Sunny Jim” and “Mr. Fitz,” Fitzsimmons won 13 Triple Crown races, a mark equaled only by fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. Fitzsimmons won the Kentucky Derby three times, the Preakness Stakes four times, and the Belmont Stakes six times. Two of his champions, Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935) won the Triple Crown.
In 1923, Fitzsimmons took over head training duties for William Woodward’s Belair Stable, for whom he conditioned Gallant Fox and Omaha, among others. He also conditioned Horse of the Year winners Granville and Nashua. Following his time with Belair Stable, Fitzsimmons trained for the Phipps family, and remained with them for the rest of his career. Based on available records, Fitzsimmons won 2,275 races in his career. He was the leading trainer in purse earnings five times.
Along with his 13 victories in Triple Crown races, Fitzsimmons won 10 Saratoga Cups, nine Dwyer Stakes, eight Lawrence Realizations, eight Wood Memorials, eight Alabama Stakes, seven Jockey Club Gold Cups, and five Suburban Handicaps.
Fitzsimmons sent out 155 stakes-winning horses that won more than 470 stakes races and trained 12 champions.
James Fitzsimmons was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1958.
James Fitzsimmons with Bold Ruler