Dr. Fager | Horse Profile

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Dr. Fager

The namesake for this historic champion was a medical doctor, Dr. Charles Fager. Serving as a neurosurgeon out of Boston, the human Dr. Fager would save horse trainer John Nerud’s life. Nerud would go on to name his greatest horse after the doctor who gave him a second lease of life.

Showing an unreal versatility on the track that was met by supreme talent, speed, and weight-carrying ability, the front-running Dr. Fager finished with a record of 18-2-1 from 22 starts and earned $1,002,642 over the course of his career.

His first notable victory came in the 1966 Cowdin Stakes, one of four wins from five juvenile starts. The following season, Dr. Fager would win the 1967 Gotham Stakes, Withers Stakes, Jersey Derby, Arlington Classic Stakes, Rockingham Special, NH Sweep Classic, Hawthorne Gold Cup and the Vosburgh Handicap. His most notable defeat at three was in the Woodward Stakes behind Damascus and Buckpasser; connections of both horses started pacemakers with the aim of tiring the free-running Dr. Fager.

During the 1968 season, which would end up being his final one, Dr. Fager notched victories in the Roseben Handicap, Californian Stakes, Suburban Handicap, and Whitney Handicap, before running a world record 1 minute 32 1/5 seconds for a mile when winning the Washington Park Handicap while carrying 134 pounds. He then won the United Nations Handicap on grass, before ending his career with a repeat in the Vosburgh, setting a track record 1 minute 20-1/5 seconds for seven furlongs, while carrying 139 pounds.

Dr. Fager earned five different Eclipse Awards during a three-year span, which is incredible given the broad range of these categories. He was the 1967 Eclipse Award winner for Champion Sprinter, and the following year he was Champion Older Horse, Champion Grass Horse, Champion Sprinter again, and Horse of the Year.

Perhaps one of the most impressive feats of Dr. Fager is the fact that the only horses to finish ahead of him were the Champion 2-year-old male Successor, and Damascus and Buckpasser, two runners would earn Horse of the Year honors respectively. If you’re going to suffer defeat, you might as well do it against credible rivals.

Following his racing retirement, Dr. Fager was sent out stud at Tartan Farm close to Ocala, Florida. He would produce many successful progeny and was the Leading Sire in North America in 1977. Unfortunately, this was one year after his death, due to a colon obstruction.

The Dr. Fager Stakes was inaugurated in 1982 at Calder Race Course in Miami to honor this great racehorse, and he was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 1971.