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Black Gold

Black Gold
Induction Year: 
Rosa M. Hoots
Rosa M. Hoots
Hanley Webb
Black Toney
Bonnie Joe
Career Years: 
1923-1924; 1927-1928

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According to legend, Al Hoots had a vision as he was dying that his mare Useeit would be bred to Col. E. R. Bradley’s stallion Black Toney and that the resulting foal would win the Kentucky Derby.


Useeit won 34 times in 122 career starts from 1909 through 1916, including a win over the great Pan Zareta. Hoots raced her at county fairs in Oklahoma until he learned of larger purses in Mexico. He took Useeit to the old track in Juarez and entered her in a claiming race, which was known as a “selling race” at the time. Useeit won the race and was claimed in the process. Hoots, ignorant of the rules of selling races, refused to surrender Useeit, protecting his ownership with a shotgun. Threatened again by the Juarez track officials, Hoots slipped out of town with his mare and was barred from racing south of the border.


After his death, Hoots’ widow, Rosa, convinced Bradley to let her breed Useeit to Black Toney. A short time later, oil was discovered on Mrs. Hoots’ property in Oklahoma and the widow became rich. When Useeit foaled her Black Toney colt at Bradley’s Idle Hour Stock Farm in February 1921 it was given the appropriate name of Black Gold.


Trained by Hanley Webb, Black Gold made his debut in Louisiana at Fair Grounds with a six-length victory in January 1923. He won his first stakes race, the Bashford Manor Stakes, that May at Churchill Downs and finished his juvenile season with a 9-5-2 from 18 starts and earnings of $19,163.


After winning the Louisiana Derby as a 3-year-old, Black Gold won the 50th running of the Kentucky Derby before a crowd estimated at 80,000 to fulfill the dream of Al Hoots. Black Gold became the first horse bred and owned by a woman to win the Derby. He added victories in the Ohio State Derby at Cleveland’s Maple Heights Park and the Chicago Derby at Hawthorne that year, finishing his 3-year-old campaign with a record of 9-0-2 from 13 starts and earnings of $91,340.


Black Gold was retired to stud in late 1924 because of unsoundness in his left foreleg. In his three seasons as a stallion, Black Gold produced only one foal, a colt that was killed in a lightning strike. After almost three years away from the races, Black Gold was put back in training late in 1927. He was winless in three starts that December and was reportedly lame.


In January 1928, Black Gold was entered in the Salome Handicap at Fair Grounds. He began to make a move entering the stretch, but tragically broke his troublesome left foreleg. Despite the efforts of his rider to pull him up, Black Gold fought on and finished the race. The injury was fatal and Black Gold was buried in the track’s infield.


In 35 lifetime starts, Black Gold compiled a record of 18-5-4 with earnings of $110,553. The Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds is named in his honor and it is tradition that winning jockey of the race places flowers on the horse’s grave in the infield.