Bimelech was a champion thoroughbred racehorse who won two Triple Crown races, was twice named American horse of the year, and is ranked #84 among U.S. racehorses of the 20th century. After retiring to stud, he sired 30 stakes winners and his daughters produced 50 stakes winners.
Bimelech was foaled at Colonel E. R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. Colonel Bradley named this latest La Troienne foal after a friend, John Harris, who went by the nickname Abimelech. He dropped the "A" because he gave his horses names that began with a "B". Bimelech was the last colt sired by Bradley's major stallion, Black Toney, and was a full brother to Black Helen, the 1935 champion three-year-old filly. (Black Toney was also the sire of Hall of Famer Black Gold.)
Bimelech was undefeated as a two-year-old, winning his first over maidens at Suffolk Downs by three lengths. In his next race, an allowance at Empire City, he wired the field. Bimelech's first stakes race was at Saratoga Race Course, where he defeated Briar Sharp and Andy K. in the Saratoga Special Stakes. He then went on to win the Hopeful Stakes by a neck. He ended his first season with a length and a half victory in the Belmont Futurity Stakes and a four length win in the Pimlico Futurity. Bimelech was named American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt. He was also the Experimental Free Handicap Highweight at 130 pounds, a prodigious weight for a young horse.
He became the favorite to win the 1940 Kentucky Derby; his winterbook odds of three to one were the lowest odds ever quoted for a Derby favorite up to that time.
In his first race as a three-year-old, Bimelech took the Blue Grass Stakes by two and a half lengths. He then won the Derby Trial Stakes, beating a colt from Milky Way Farms called Gallahadion.
Still undefeated, Bimelech was the overwhelming choice for the Derby, which had had its purse raised to $75,000 added. It was his third start in 8 days. At six to one, Charles S. Howard's Mioland was the bettor's second choice. (Howard owned and raced the famous Seabiscuit.) Gallahadion was thirty-five to one.
In the Derby, Bimelech drifted farther and farther out from the rail and ran wide the entire race. The longer distance left him exhausted in the last few furlongs. Gallahadion passed him in the final furlong. Bimelech's jockey, Fred Smith, took the blame for the loss.
A short time later, Bimelech beat Gallahadion in the Preakness. He ran second in the Withers Stakes (records indicate this was due to poor preparation, so, after the Withers, Bimelech went into heavy training), and won the Belmont Stakes. He struggled to win his next race, and it was discovered he was racing with an injured foot, which ended his racing that year. He took that year's honor of American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse.
When the new starting gates were introduced, Bimelech acted very badly while being loaded into the gate. After two races, Bradley retired his horse, fearing Bimelech would hurt himself.
In 1946, Bradley died and all his horses were sold. A syndicate (Greentree Stud, King Ranch, and Ogden Phipps) bought Bimelech. They stood him at Greentree Stud, where he sired 30 stakes winners, including Be Faithful, the second dam of Never Bend. He also sired Better Self, the broodmare sire of Dr. Fager. Daughters of Bimelech produced 50 stakes winners. Bimelech died in 1966.
Bimelech was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1990. In the Blood-Horse magazine List of Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, Bimelech was ranked number 84.