Forward Pass (horse)

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Forward Pass
Sire On-and-On
Grandsire Nasrullah
Dam Princess Turia
Damsire Heliopolis
Sex Stallion
Foaled March 28, 1965
Died December 1, 1980(1980-12-01) (aged 15)
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Calumet Farm
Owner Calumet Farm
Trainer Henry Forrest
Record 23: 10-4-2
Earnings $678,231
Major wins

Flash Stakes (1967)
Hibiscus Stakes (1968)
Everglades Stakes (1968)
Florida Derby (1968)
Blue Grass Stakes (1968)
American Derby (1968)

American Triple Crown wins:
Kentucky Derby (1968)
Preakness Stakes (1968)
TSD U.S. Co-Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1968)
Forward Pass Stakes at Arlington Park
Last updated on October 31, 2006

Forward Pass (March 28, 1965 – December 1, 1980) was an American Thoroughbred Champion racehorse who is the only horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby to have been declared the winner as the result of a disqualification.


Owned and bred by Calumet Farm, the colt was trained by Henry Forrest.

Racing career[edit]

Racing at age three, he won several graded stakes races, including three important U.S. Triple Crown prep races: the Everglades Stakes, the Florida Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes. The betting favorite going into the 1968 Kentucky Derby, Forward Pass finished second, but winner Dancer's Image was disqualified to last place after traces of phenylbutazone were discovered in the mandatory post-race urinalysis. As a result, Forward Pass was declared the winner. The controversy over the first (and still the only) disqualification of a Derby winner filled the sporting news of every media outlet in North America and was the cover story for Sports Illustrated magazine, which called it the sports story of the year. It was revealed that Dancer's Image had been plagued by sore ankles and on the Sunday prior to the Kentucky Derby, his handlers had a veterinarian give the horse a phenylbutazone tablet, a pain killer commonly used to relieve inflammation of the joints, which was legal at many race tracks in the United States but not at Churchill Downs. However, it was still a legitimate practice, as the medication would dissipate from the horse's system during the six days before the Derby. When the horse's post-Derby urinalysis revealed the phenylbutazone, his owner and handlers believed someone else may have been motivated to give the colt another dose of the drug, and they filed an appeal of the disqualification. The Kentucky State Racing Commission examined the matter and ordered distribution of the purse with first money to Forward Pass. This decision was upheld in April 1972 by Kentucky's highest court in Kentucky State Racing Commission v. Fuller, 481 S.W.2d 298 (Ky, 1972). In a subsequent decision, the Commission ordered that Forward Pass be considered the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby and that his owners were to receive the Derby's gold cup.

In a rematch with Dancer's Image in the Preakness Stakes, Forward Pass won by six lengths. As the third leg of the U.S. Triple Crown approached, the Derby controversy raged on. A victory by Forward Pass in the Belmont Stakes would make him the first Triple Crown winner in twenty years and many fans, experts, and racing commentators felt he would be an illegitimate champion. In the Belmont, Forward Pass finished second by one and a quarter lengths to Greentree Stable's colt Stage Door Johnny, a horse who had not raced in the Derby or the Preakness but had been specifically bred and conditioned for competing at longer distances.


In 1968, the Turf and Sports Digest poll saw Forward Pass named Champion 3-Yr-Old Male.[1] The other two organizations (Thoroughbred Racing Association and Daily Racing Form) voted for Stage Door Johnny.

Retirement and legacy[edit]

Retired at the end of the 1968 racing season to Calumet Farm, Forward Pass was sent to stand at stud at Calumet Farm. In 1977, he was sold to a breeding farm in Japan. He died there in 1980.

Even today, controversy and speculation surrounds the 1968 Kentucky Derby and The New York Times [2] calls the ruling the "most controversial decision in all of Triple Crown racing." The use of phenylbutazone was subsequently approved by Churchill Downs in recognition of medical research that showed it does not enhance a horse's performance.


Pedigree of Forward Pass

bay 1956


bay 1940

Nearco Pharos
Mumtaz Begum Blenheim
Mumtaz Mahal
Two Lea

bay 1946

Bull Lea Bull Dog
Rose Leaves
Two Bob The Porter
Princess Turia

ch. 1953


bay 1936

Hyperion Gainsborough
Drift Swynford
Santa Cruz
Blue Delight

brown 1938

Blue Larkspur Black Servant
Blossum Time
Chicleight Chicle
Ruddy Light


  1. ^ "Dr Fager Named top horse". Montreal Gazette. November 13, 1968. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  2. ^