JACOBS, HIRSCH (1904–1970), U.S. horseracing trainer and breeder who saddled more thoroughbred winners – 3,596 – than any other trainer in history; member of National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. One of ten children born to an immigrant tailor in Manhattan, Jacobs began raising and racing pigeons at age eight after the family moved to Brooklyn, and by 12 could identify 100 pigeons by sight. At age 22 he bought his first thoroughbred, called Reveillon. Two years later Jacobs formed a partnership with Isadore Bieber, who served as financier and owner of horses while Jacobs did the training. Jacobs was an unusually keen observer with a phenomenal memory, especially for the ailments of other men's horses. His specialty was claiming inexpensive horses and developing them into big winners, the most famous being Stymie, which Jacobs claimed on June 2, 1943, for $1,500 and turned into one of the all-time great thoroughbreds: in 128 races Stymie won 35, was second 32 times, and third 26 times, earning $918,485, a record at the time. Stymie was also named handicap horse of the year in 1945 and was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1975.
Jacobs led all trainers in winners every year from 1933 through 1944 except 1940, when he finished second. With some of the money earned by Stymie, Bieber and Jacobs set up their own breeding farm, Stymie Manor. As a trainer, Jacobs' horses led in earnings in 1946, 1960, and 1965, and Stymie Manor led all breeders in winnings from 1964 through 1967. After suffering a stroke in 1966, Jacobs became less active and his son, John, took over much of the responsibility for training Stymie Manor's best horses. Jacobs' wife, Ethel, brothers Eugene and Sidney, son John, and daughter and son-in-law Patrice and Louis Wolfson were also long-time trainers, owners, and breeders. Jacobs' 3,596 winners earned $15,340,534, and among his best horses were Hail to Reason, the two-year-old champion in 1960; Regal Gleam, champion two-year-old filly in 1966; Straight Deal, the champion handicap mare in 1967; and Affectionately, champion sprinter in 1965. Jacobs trained six horses that raced in the Kentucky Derby, though none finished higher than third place. Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore memorialized him in 1975 with the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes. Jacobs was elected to the National Racing Hall of Fame as a trainer in 1958.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.