Dr. Fager: The best single season holder
Dr. Fager regular rider, Braulio Baeza, described the horse as being so powerful that "he could punch a hole in the wind." While he had some good success in his first two years of racing, Dr. Fager reached legendary status in 1968. At the age of four, the American thoroughbred's 1968 season is often seen by horse racing experts as one of the greatest individual seasons of all-time, cementing Dr. Fager's legacy in the sport. In fact, Dr. Fager was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1971, a mere three years after he finished competing in races.
Dr. Fager's Profile
Place of birth: Tartan Farms, near Ocala, Florida
Date of birth and death: April 6, 1964 - August 5, 1976 (12 years old)
Owner: Tartan Stable
Trainer: John A. Nerud
Sire: Rough'n Tumble
Jockeys: Braulio Baeza, Bill Shoemaker, Manuel Ycaza, John Rotz
Career earnings: $1,002,642
Dr. Fager's Achievements
Throughout his career, Dr. Fager had a number of major wins, ranging from the New Hampshire Sweepstakes Classic to the Washington Park Handicap. He is also ranked as #6 on the list of Blood-Horse magazine's Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century. Between 1966 and 1968, Dr. Fager set or tied at least six track and world records.
As mentioned before, Dr. Fager's 1968 season is seen by many was the greatest horse racing season of all-time. During this season, Dr. Fager became the only horse to win four American titles in one year: Horse of the Year, co-champion grass horse, champion sprinter, and champion handicap horse. The legendary year became even more so at the Washington Park Handicap when Dr. Fager, while carrying 134 pounds, set a world record for fastest mile at 1:32 1/5 — all while battling with suspected knee and ankle issues throughout the year. Today, that record still stands over 52 years later as the American record on dirt.
Amassing career earnings of over one million dollars, Dr. Fager is seen as one of the best flat racehorses, if not the very best in the category.
Dr. Fager was named after Dr. Charles Anthony Fager, a Boston neurosurgeon who saved John A. Nerud's life, who was the former's trainer, after falling off a horse and sustaining a life-threatening head injury. This event led to the actual doctor becoming a lifelong fan of horseracing, which was a hobby passed on to his son Jeff, who still own thoroughbred horses and recounts his father's story to audiences to this day.
Throughout Dr. Fager's horseracing career, he had to battle with health problems, such as a blood infection, right knee issues, and clubbed forefeet. His injuries required constant care, which prevented him from being able to compete as much as he potentially could. Photographs often showed Dr. Fager having to wear bandages around his knees at races, signifying how serious these injuries were. His chronic knee issues are one of the main reasons that Nerud didn't compete with him in Triple Crown events, such as the Kentucky Derby, thinking that Dr. Fager wouldn't be able to complete properly in these races.
After retiring after his legendary 1968 season, Dr. Fager became a stud at Tartan Farms, continuing to do so for the next eight years until he passed away in 1976. Posthumously, he was 1977's leading sire in North America. He sired 172 winners, of which 35 were stakes winners, out of his 265 known foals, which goes to show how powerful his genes were. Some of his famous offspring include Dearly Precious, Dr. Patches and L'Alezane.