Omar Khayyam (horse)
|Breeder||Sir John Robinson|
C. K. G. Billings & Frederick Johnson|
Wilfrid Viau (from May 1917)
Charles T. Patterson|
Richard F. Carmen (from May 1917)
|Omar Khayyam is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Lisma by Marco. He was born around 1914 in Great Britain, and was bred by Sir John Robinson.|
Brooklyn Derby (1917)
Kentucky Derby (1917)
|American Co-Champion 3-Yr-Old Male Horse (1917)|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
|Last updated on July 14, 2008|
Omar Khayyam (1914-1938) was a British-born Thoroughbred racehorse who was sold as a yearling to an American racing partnership and who became the first foreign-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. He was named for the famous Persian mathematician, Omar Khayyam.
Omar Khayyam was out of the mare Lisma, a daughter of the Champion sire Persimmon whose success on the track included wins in the Epsom Derby, St. Leger Stakes and Ascot Gold Cup. He was sired by Marco who had been a leading three-year-old in England in 1915 and who was the great-grandson of the first English Triple Crown Champion, West Australian.
Trained by Charles Patterson, Omar Khayyam was sent to the track in 1916 at age two. His most important result that year was a second to Campfire in the Hopeful Stakes. In his three-year-old season, no U.S. Triple Crown series had yet been formalized and in 1917 the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were held on the same day.  Choosing to run in the Derby, in a warm-up race Omar Khayyam was unplaced in the Derby Trial. As a result, he was sent off at 13:1 odds in the Kentucky Derby. Ridden by jockey Charles Borel, Omar Khayyam used a powerful stretch drive to come from tenth place to win over the betting favorite, a colt named Ticket.
Three weeks after his Derby win, Omar Khayyam was sold as part of his owner's multi-horse dispersal auction held on the grounds of New York's Belmont Park. He was purchased by Canadian biscuit manufacturer Wilfrid Viau. For his new owner, the colt went on to win the Prospect Handicap at Jamaica Racetrack, the Brooklyn Derby at the old Aqueduct Racetrack and at the Saratoga Race Course, the Kenner Stakes, Saratoga Cup and the prestigious Travers Stakes. Racing in Maryland, Omar Khayyam won the Havre de Grace Handicap and, despite being handicapped by thirty pounds, set a new Pimlico Race Course track record in winning the Pimlico Autumn Handicap.
After other entrants were scratched, the October 18, 1917 John R. McLean Memorial Championship at Laurel Park Racecourse turned into a match race between Omar Khayyam and August Belmont, Jr.'s Belmont Stakes winner, Hourless. Earlier that year, Omar Khayyam had beaten Hourless in the 1 ½ mile Lawrence Realization Stakes and in the Brooklyn Derby. This time, however, Hourless won by a length and despite Omar Khayyam's earlier wins over Hourless and the fact that he had earned $20,000 more than Hourless in stakes purses that year, plus had made many more starts and had been more consistent throughout the year, Omar Khayyam had to share American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse honors.
Racing at age four in 1918, Omar Khayyam's chances at winning were limited as a result of being assigned high weights. However, he still won the Marines' Liberty Bond Handicap. The following year won the Rennert Handicap at Pimlico under jockey Clarence Kummer before being retired to stand at stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky for the 1920 season. In 1929 Omar Khayyam was moved to the J. P. Jones stud in Charlottesville, Virginia where he remained until his death in 1938.
Among his progeny, Omar Khayyam sired Malicious, an iron horse who won thirty-two races and made one hundred and eighty-five career starts. Of his offspring, Mr. Khayyam's wins included the 1933 Wood Memorial Stakes and 1934 Metropolitan Handicap. Another son, Balko, won the 1930 Toboggan and Baltimore Handicaps.