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Photo: The Blood-Horse Library
Hill Gail
April 10, 1952
Hill Gail

Keeneland's opening day crowd got a quick preview of the year's Kentucky Derby winner.

Hill Gail, who had spent the first part of his 3-year-old season in California winning the Santa Anita Derby and San Vicente Stakes, captured the nation's oldest stakes, the Phoenix Handicap, April 10 in track-record-equaling time of 1:10 2/5. Almost as impressive was the fact he gave 10 actual pounds to the runner-up, 4-year-old Dark Peter, and 24 pounds by scale.

Hill Gail, a Calumet Farm homebred, started once more at Keeneland before heading to Churchill Downs. He appeared to be the winner of the Dixiana purse at seven furlongs, but got nipped near the wire and lost by a head.

The Tuesday before the Run for the Roses, Hill Gail won the mile Derby Trial in track-record time of 1:35 2/5. Favored in the big race, he lead by five lengths after a mile in 1:35 2/5 and scored by two to become the record fifth Derby winner for jockey Eddie Arcaro.

Hill Gail came out of the race with a slight leg injury and didn't run in the Preakness, won by Blue Man, nor the Belmont Stakes, won by One Count.

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