Dr. Fager

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Dr. Fager
Sire Rough'n Tumble
Grandsire Free For All
Dam Aspidistra
Damsire Better Self
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1964
Country United States
Color Bay
Breeder Tartan Farm
Owner Tartan Stable. Racing silks: Red, tartan sash, red and tartan cap.
Trainer John A. Nerud
Record 22:18-2-1
Earnings $1,002,642
Major wins
Cowdin Stakes (1966)
Withers Stakes (1967)
Hawthorne Gold Cup (1967)
Gotham Stakes (1967)
Arlington Classic (1967)
Vosburgh Stakes (1967, 1968)
Suburban Handicap (1968)
Californian Stakes (1968)
Roseben Handicap (1968)
United Nations Handicap (1968)
Brooklyn Handicap (1968)
Whitney Handicap (1968)
Washington Park Handicap (1968)
American Champion Sprint Horse (1967, 1968)
DRF American Champion Male Turf Horse (1968)
American Champion Older Male Horse (1968)
American Horse of the Year (1968)
Leading sire in North America (1977)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1971)
#6 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Dr. Fager Stakes at Calder Race Course

Dr. Fager (April 6, 1964 - August 5, 1976) was an American thoroughbred racehorse who had what many consider one of the greatest single racing seasons by any horse in the history of the sport. He is the only horse to ever held four titles in one year, 1968, when he was named the Horse of the Year, champion handicap horse, champion sprinter, and co-champion grass horse.


A bay colt by Rough'n Tumble,[1] 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 neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles Fager, who saved Nerud's life with two operations after Nerud suffered a serious fall from a horse.[2]

Racing career[edit]

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 male 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.[3][4] 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 Whitney Handicap, and the United Nations Handicap.[5] 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,[6] the Daily Racing Form[7] and the Turf and Sport Digest.[8]

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.

Assessment, honors and awards[edit]

In The Blood-Horse magazine's list of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Dr. Fager ranks sixth. In 1971, three years after he left the track, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York.[9][dead link]

Stud career[edit]

Dr. Fager went to stud at his owner's Tartan Farm near Ocala, Florida, where he stood for eight years before his death at age 12 on August 5, 1976. Named leading sire in 1977, Dr. Fager sired 1975 American Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Dearly Precious, 1978 co-champion sprinter Dr. Patches, Tree of Knowledge, and L'Alezane. Death was attributed to a colon obstruction. He was buried at Tartan Farm, now known as Winding Oaks Farm.


  1. ^ http://www.pedigreequery.com/dr+fager
  2. ^ http://cs.bloodhorse.com/blogs/horse-racing-steve-haskin/archive/2015/08/13/the-legacy-of-john-nerud.aspx
  3. ^ http://colinsghost.org/2008/03/inaugural-wow-post-dr-fagers-world.html
  4. ^ Dr. Fager's Historic World Record Mile, YouTube video. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  5. ^ http://www.colinsghost.org/2009/07/dr-fager-wins-united-nations-handicap.html
  6. ^ "Dr Fager named Horse Of the Year". Evening News. 1968-12-05. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  7. ^ "D. Fager Named Horse Of The Year". Lewiston Morning Tribune. 1968-11-27. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  8. ^ "Dr Fager Top Horse". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1968-11-13. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  9. ^ http://www.racingmuseum.org/hall/horse.asp?ID=61 Dr. Fager's page in the Hall of Fame, includes video of the 1968 Californian