“As the New Year’s bells were ringing in the year 1906 there passed away with the old year at Avondale the celebrated thoroughbred stallion, Himyar. The grand old horse, 31 years old, was attended to the last by his faithful groom and his devoted companion, Bichette, a goat, who has been his constant stable mate since blindness overtook him.
In the nearby paddocks romped his sons and daughters, little dreaming their illustrious sire was going to the great beyond which knows no return. But they remain to bear testimony to his marvelous success in the stud as well as on the turf.
Who would pause a moment and hope that in passing Himyar may attain a horse harem, where the faithful servants of man may go?
Himyar was bred by Maj. B. G. Thomas in 1875. He was a rich bay in color, 15.3 hands high, and of a gentle, kind disposition. He was purchased in 1897 by E. S. Gardner, Sr., and carried to Avondale Farm, in Sumner County. Himyar easily demonstrated his marvelous speed and endurance.
As a 2-year-old he won the Colt, Colt and Filly (one mile in 1:44 ½) and Belle Meade Stakes, and was third in two other stake events.
At 3 he started five times, winning three races and finishing second in the other two. He captured the Belle Meade Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles; Phoenix Hotel Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, and the January Stakes, mile heats, at St. Louis. In the Kentucky Derby, although left at the post, he was second to Day Star in fast time, and was also second for the Elkhorn Stakes, 2 miles, on a muddy track.
At 4, Himyar won the four races for which he started – one mile, 1 ⅛ miles and twice at 2 miles, one of the last being in 3:35.
At 5 he won, at mile heats, the Merchants’ Stakes at Louisville, 1 ⅛ miles, in 1:55 ¼. The Turf Stakes at Louisville, one and three-eighths miles and again at 1 ⅛ miles in 1:54 ¾. He was also second in four races and third in two, being unplaced but twice.
This record shows that Himyar was a fine campaigner and a horse of great speed and stamina.
Himyar was by the great race horse and sire, Alarm, and his dam was the wonderful broodmare Hira, a winner herself and also the dam of Hazem, Hegiaz, Hi Ban, Hiflight, Gymnast, Yemen and the stakes winners Sis Himyar and Ban Yan. Himyar’s second dam, Hegira, had no equal for speed in her day. She ran, among other races, two miles in the then unprecedented time of 3:34 ¼. Her full sister, Mecca, was also a fine race mare. The third dam, Flight, was also a superior race mare and threw Mehomet, and this distinguished turf performer got Oliver, winner of three mile heats in 5:38 ¼ and 5:38 ⅛.
While Himyar scored many triumphs on the turf it is nevertheless a fact that the old son of Alarm won even higher laurels as a producer of speed and gameness. To the turf he not only sent many great performers, but horses that afterwards helped to make a name for the family by getting turf kings and queens. He sired among other notable performers Domino, winner of $203,000; Correction, winner of $47,000 (the dam of Yankee); Faraday, Harry Reed, Plaudit, winner of the Kentucky Derby; Quesal, the dam of Tommy Atkins; Hyphen, winner of the Brighton Derby. To date he has sent more than a hundred performers to the turf that during their careers won in purses and stakes more than $1,000 each, which is a record almost unequalled by any stallion in the history of the thoroughbred.
Of the many that he got Domino was unquestionably his greatest horse. He swept everything before him and retired as the largest money winner the American turf has ever known. Domino also was successful, during his short career in the stud he has sired, besides Commando, the champion 3-year-old of a few years ago, but Cap and Belles [sic], the only American-bred mare to ever capture the English Oaks.
Although one would naturally believe that the old horse had long ago passed his days of usefulness, such was not by any means the case, for he has only recently sent to the turf many good winners. His latest get to race were Follies Bergeres, Funiculaire, Rubaiyat, Charlie Eastman, a 2-year-old, who this season, out of ten starts, won seven races, and was not unplaced.
Even in his old age he surpassed younger and stronger stallions, as witness the winners he has had on the turf the past few seasons, and it remains to be seen if, in the 1906 crop of 2-year-olds by him, if there will not be another grand performer to add fresh laurels to Himyar and the popular Avondale stable.
The remains of this illustrious sire will have a last resting place in the meadows of Mr. Gardner’s splendid nursery, and his memory will be reserved for all visitors by a handsome monument.”
(The Nashville American, 01/01/1906)