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Frank E. Childs

Frank E. Childs
Induction Year: 
Dec. 27, 1887, Cove. Ore.
Jan. 10, 1973, Duarte, Calif.
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


A third-generation trainer, Frank Childs was born on Dec. 27, 1887 in Cove, Ore. His father, Lewis A. Childs, had been a successful breeder, trainer, and driver of standardbreds, while his grandfather had come to Oregon in a covered wagon in 1859 and was also a harness horseman. A great uncle, Jimmy Welch, is credited with bringing the first standardbreds to California in 1859.


Frank Childs began his association with horses near San Francisco in 1905 while working for his father. A few years later, he broke yearlings at Exposition Park near Los Angeles, then followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Marvin, one of the top harness horsemen of the early 20th century. By 1911, Childs was already acclaimed as a trainer and driver, starting at Pleasanton in California, while in 1913 he trained and drove the champion trotting mare Lita J. on the Grand Circuit.


After serving in the Army in World War I, Childs went into the construction business before he began conditioning Thoroughbreds in 1932. His first stakes winner, Watersplash in 1936, was a claimer. Childs had plenty of success with claimers, including Canina, the 1944 Kentucky Oaks winner, a $5,000 claim. Other races Childs won with claiming horses include the Remsen, San Antonio Handicap, and Del Mar Derby.


Childs’ most famous success was with Tomy Lee. Although he was never fully sound, Tomy Lee was a leading juvenile in 1958 and went on to win the Blue Grass Stakes and Kentucky Derby the following year.


Childs won the Hollywood Oaks with Flying Rhythm, the California Oaks with Miss Ribot, the Del Mar Oaks with Royal Rasher, and other California stakes with Fleet Surprise, Admiral Drake, and Fortunate Isle.