Ben Jones was born in 1883 in Parnell, Mo. His father, the town’s founder and owner of the Parnell Bank, had visions of his son someday replacing him as the bank’s president. Jones, however, had other ideas, and instead embarked upon a career that eventually saw him regarded as one of the finest trainers in the history of Thoroughbred racing.
Jones recorded his first victory at a recognized track in 1909 in Oklahoma City, Okla. In 1932, he was hired by Herbert M. Woolf as head trainer for Woolford Farm. In 1938, Jones won his first Kentucky Derby with Lawrin.
In 1939, Jones was hired to take over Calumet Farm. During the next 21 years, Jones trained five Kentucky Derby winners for Calumet: Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), and Hill Gail (1952). Both Whirlaway and Citation won the Triple Crown.
Four horses trained by Jones – Whirlaway, Twilight Tear, Armed, and Citation – were named Horse of the Year, and he trained 13 champions overall. During Jones’ tenure at Calumet, the stable led the nation in earnings a record 11 times. Jones was the nation’s leading money-winning trainer four times. In 1947, Jones assumed the title of general manager at Calumet, but continued, along with his son, Jimmy Jones, to train until his retirement.
Ben Jones was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1958.
Jones pictured with Twilight Tear
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