Sadly, there was no racecall, so I took a shot at editing music for it.
The piece I chose hopefully captures Dr. Fager's sublime run down the backstretch and the excellence of his stretch run.
A bay colt by Rough'n Tumble, Dr. Fager was bred by his owner, the Tartan Stable of William L. McKnight (chairman of the board of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co.). His half-sister is another Hall of Famer, Ta Wee. Trained by Hall of Famer John Nerud, he was named for the Boston brain surgeon Dr. Charles Fager, who saved Nerud's life with two operations after Nerud suffered a serious fall from his pony.
Dr. Fager raced 22 times, winning 18 races, with two places and one show. His only out-of-the-money finish was as a result of a disqualification in the Jersey Derby, in which he finished first. Only three horses ever finished in front of Dr. Fager: Champion juvenile Successor, Horse of the Year Damascus, and Horse of the Year Buckpasser.
Dr. Fager set the world record at 1 mile on any surface: 1:32 1/5, achieved on August 24, 1968 when he ran in the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park under 134 pounds. The record still stands for dirt surface racing. The list of stakes and handicaps he won includes the Gotham Stakes, the Withers Stakes, the Jersey Derby, the AP Classic, the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap, the Vosburgh Stakes, the Roseben, the Californian Stakes, the Suburban Handicap, the Brooklyn Handicap, the Whitney Handicap, and the United Nations Handicap. Dr. Fager's career is recorded in "Champions, The Lives, Times, and Past Performances of the 20th Century's Greatest Thoroughbreds" by the editors and writers of the Daily Racing Form.
At the end of 1968, Dr. Fager swept the Horse of the Year awards, topping the polls organised by the Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and the Turf and Sport Digest.
Dr. Fager was known for his duels with Damascus at Aqueduct Racetrack. Damascus's connections took to entering a "rabbit" to engage Dr. Fager in a speed duel, knowing that Dr. Fager could not be rated by his jockey. In four meetings between the two Hall of Famers, Damascus took two races (both times using the "rabbit" strategy) and Dr. Fager took two
Damascus (April 14, 1964–August 8, 1995) was a thoroughbred race horse sired by Sword Dancer (1959's Horse of the Year) out of Kerala (by My Babu) foaled at the Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Though he finished third in the 1967 Kentucky Derby (a high-strung horse, the humidity depleted him and the noise of the crowd spooked him; he was given a stable pony thereafter to calm him down), he won so many of the other big races—the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes*, the Jockey Club Gold Cup*, the Wood Memorial, the Travers Stakes, the Dwyer Stakes (closing from 12 lengths back and spotting the runner up 16 pounds), the Woodward Stakes*—that he was 1967's Horse of the Year. During the same year, top horses Dr. Fager and Buckpasser were also competing. In Blood-Horse magazine's top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Buckpasser ranks 14th and Dr. Fager ranks 6th. In a race many consider the "Race of the Century," Damascus won the 1967 Woodward by 10 lengths over both of these horses after his connections, as well as those of Buckpasser, used stablemates to set a blistering pace, thus weakening Dr. Fager. Damascus himself ranks number 16 in the Blood Horse listing. In 1967, he was Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old colt, and he shared the champion handicap male honors with Buckpasser.
Damascus was owned and bred by Mrs. Edith W. Bancroft, whose father, William Woodward, Sr., owned Belair Stud and won five Belmonts in the 1930s. Edith Bancroft inherited the famed Belair white silks with red polka dots and scarlet cap but never used Belair as a stable name. Damascus was trained by Hall of Famer Frank Whiteley, Jr. and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Willie Shoemaker.
Damascus won the Travers Stakes (by 22 lengths), the Remsen Stakes, the American Derby (setting a new track record), the Aqueduct Handicap (against older horses and carrying top weight), the Leonard Richards Stakes, the Bay Shore Stakes, the Brooklyn Handicap (beating Dr. Fager, who had beaten him in the Suburban Handicap two weeks earlier), the William Dupont Jr. Handicap, the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes, and the Malibu Stakes.
He bowed a tendon while racing in his second Jockey Club Gold Cup, coming in last, which was the only time in his career he was out of the top three. Whitely retired him to stud.
In his three-year-old season, Damascus set an earnings record for a single season ($817,941) that held until Secretariat surpassed it almost a decade later.
Out of 32 lifetime starts, Damascus won 21 times, placed seven times, and came home third three times. His career earnings amounted to $1,176,781. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974.
At stud at Arthur B. Hancock, Jr.'s Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky, Damascus sired 71 stakes winners before being pensioned in 1989. He was especially successful with his daughters who produced champions. He died in his paddock at the age of 31 on August 8, 1995, and was buried at Claiborne