Needles (FL)

The first Florida-bred to win the Kentucky Derby, Needles was a crowd favorite known to come from far off the pace to win in thrilling style.

Needles, Dave Erb up, after winning the 1956 Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs Photo)
Inducted

2000

Foaled

1953

Sire

Ponder

Dam

Noodle Soup

Damsire

Jack High

Breeder

W. E. Leach

Owner

D & H Stable

Trainer

Hugh L. Fontaine

Career

1955-1957

Earnings

$600,355

Racing Record

21

Starts

Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1955 10 6 0 2 $129805 $129,805
1956 8 4 2 0 $440850 $440,850
1957 3 1 1 1 $29700 $29,700

Biography

The first Florida-bred to win the Kentucky Derby, Needles was a crowd favorite known to come from far off the pace to win in thrilling style.

A son of Kentucky Derby winner Ponder, Needles was out of the Jack High mare Noodle Soup. Foaled and raised in Ocala, Florida, he was trained by Hugh L. Fontaine. Needles was given his name because he had to endure numerous veterinary injections to overcome pneumonia and an assortment of other ailments that plagued him prior to his racing career.

As a 2-year-old, Needles won six races, including the Hopeful and Sapling stakes, and was named champion 2-year-old male for 1955.

Dave Erb took over as Needles’ jockey for the colt’s 3-year-old campaign. Needles was favored for the Kentucky Derby after wins in the Flamingo Stakes and Florida Derby. At one point in the Kentucky Derby, Needles was in 16th place in the field of 17 and 24 lengths back. However, Needles rallied furiously and won by three-quarters of a length with Fabius finishing second.

Two weeks later, Fabius turned the tables with Needles finishing second in the Preakness. In the rubber match, Needles defeated Career Boy by a neck in the Belmont with Fabius third. With the Derby and Belmont victories to his credit, along with the earlier wins in Florida, Needles was named champion 3-year-old male for 1956.

Needles started three times as a 4-year-old in 1957. In his final career start, he won the Fort Lauderdale Handicap, equaling a Gulfstream Park track record. Needles concluded his career with a record of 11-3-3 from 21 starts and earnings of $600,355. He died in 1984 at the age of 31.

Achievements

Champion 2-Year-old Male — 1955
Champion 3-Year-Old Male — 1956

Triple Crown Highlights

Won the Kentucky Derby — 1956
Won the Belmont Stakes — 1956

Media

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