Trainer Profiles: James Edward ("Sunny Jim") Fitzsimmons

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Jim McVicker

January 3rd, 2013

James Edward ("Sunny Jim") Fitzsimmons (July 23, 1874 – March 11, 1966) is an American Hall of Fame thoroughbred racehorse trainer.

Born in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, New York, Fitzsimmons began his career in 1885 working as a racetrack stable boy, then he spent ten years as a mediocre jockey; becoming too heavy to ride he took up the job of training. He was to have one of the most successful careers in racing history that covered seventy years (1894–1963) and produced 2,275 winners.

Known as both "Sunny Jim" and as "Mr. Fitz," he trained three Kentucky Derby winners, four Preakness Stakes winners, and six Belmont Stakes winners. Included were two U.S. Triple Crown champions, Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935.

His total of thirteen Classic wins was tied by D. Wayne Lukas in 2000. Five times, Fitzsimmons was the season's top money-winning trainer.

His major racing wins include:

Jockey Club Gold Cup (1929, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1944, 1955, 1956) Wood Memorial Stakes (1930, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1955, 1957)

American Classic Race wins: Kentucky Derby (1930, 1935, 1939) Preakness Stakes (1930, 1935, 1955, 1957) Belmont Stakes (1930, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1939, 1955)

Two Triple Crown Titles with Gallant Fox and Omaha.

Fitzsimmons also conditioned Preakness winner and the 1957 American Horse of the Year Bold Ruler who sired Secretariat.

Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons died in 1966 in Miami, Florida. He is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.

A biography of this historic trainer is available as “Sunny Jim: The life of America's most beloved horseman, James Fitzsimmons” by Jimmy Breslin