Tom Rolfe

Last updated
Tom Rolfe
Sire Ribot
Grandsire Tenerani
Sex Stallion
CountryUnited States
Color Bay
Breeder Raymond R. Guest
Owner Powhatan Stable
Trainer Frank Y. Whiteley Jr.
Record31: 16-5-5
Major wins
Cowdin Stakes (1964)
American Derby (1965)
Arlington Classic (1965)
Aqueduct Handicap (1966)
Salvator Mile Handicap (1966)

American Triple Crown wins:
Preakness Stakes (1965)


U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1965)

Tom Rolfe (April 14, 1962 – June 12, 1989) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. He was the leading colt of his generation in the United States, winning the Preakness Stakes and being voted American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse in 1965.


Tom Rolfe was one of the best American sons of the undefeated Italian champion Ribot. His dam was Pocahontas, from whom he takes his name (the historical Pocahontas's only child was named Thomas). His half-siblings include the talented racehorse and sire Chieftain (a son of Bold Ruler).

A small horse, Tom Rolfe stood 15.2 hands and weighed less than 1,000 pounds.

Racing career

Tom Rolfe won 16 of his 31 starts, with total earnings of $671,297. Ridden by future Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte, he ran third to winner Lucky Debonair in the 1965 Kentucky Derby. In May he won the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, beating Dapper Dan by a neck, despite losing a shoe in the race and sustaining a minor injury. [1] In the Belmont Stakes in June he led in the straight but was caught close to the finish and beaten a neck by Hail To All. [2] He went on to record a notable hat-trick at Arlington Park, winning the Citation Handicap [3] in July, the Arlington Classic in August, [3] and the American Derby in September (breaking the track record). [4] His performances were enough to earn him American Champion 3-Year-Old Male Horse honors.

His sire, Ribot, won back-to-back runnings of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Tom Rolfe was shipped to Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France to contest the 1965 Arc. He disputed the lead until the closing stages and finished sixth on the grass course to Sea-Bird, but that result remains one of the best by an American-trained entry in that championship race.

Tom Rolfe stayed in training as a four-year-old in 1966. His wins included carrying 127 pounds to victory in the Aqueduct Handicap in September. [5]

Stud record

Retired to stud at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky, Tom Rolfe proved a successful sire. He is largely known today as a sire of outstanding broodmares, but his best offspring on the track was 1970 American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt and 1987 leading broodmare sire Hoist The Flag. Tom Rolfe died in 1989 and was buried at Claiborne Farm's Marchmont cemetery.


Pedigree of Tom Rolfe

bay 1952


brown 1944

BelliniCavaliere D'Arpino
Bella Minna
Try Try Again

ch. 1943

El Greco Pharos
Gay Gamp
Barbara Burrini Papyrus

brown 1955


bay 1937

Sir Gallahad Teddy
Plucky Liege
Look Up

bay 1948

Princequillo Prince Rose
The Squaw Sickle

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  1. "The Free Lance-Star - Google News Archive Search".
  2. "The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  3. 1 2 "3-T0-10 FAVORITE MAKES LATE MOVE - Time of 1 - 34 4/5 Sets Mark for Classic -- Sum Up Is Third as Seven Start - Article -". 29 August 1965.
  4. "Tom Rolfe Sets Track Mark in Winning $128,100 American Derby - SHOEMAKER RIDES 2-TO-5 FAVORITE Tom Rolfe Is Clocked in 2 - 00 3/5 for 1 1/4 Miles -Royal Gunner Second - Article -". 14 September 1965.
  5. "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search".