When we think of horses that blessed us in the 20th century, one might have to include Dr. Fager. The Good Doctor was foaled at Tartan Farm at Florida in 1964 and was sired by Rough And Tumble.
The major bay was a yearling if Tartan Farms breeder and trainer John Nerud suffered a bad fall from a steady pony and suffered a subdural hemorrhage that was placing pressure on his brain. He traveled to Boston, where he had been operated on by the very best neurosurgeon about the east shore who saved his life. That physician was just one Charles Fager, and the horse had been named in his honour.
Dr. Fager struck his maiden at first asking by seven lengths and won his next two starts by a combined 20 lengths! His beginning was The Cowdin Stakes at Aqueduct, also he was the favorite. The great Bill Shoemaker would be driving the horse for the first time and also the high-strung colt was a handful. He broke in the area of ten but was quite intent on making up that floor and almost ran over the friends in front of him while doing so.
Shoemaker had to test sharply to keep him off the heels of the front runners but when Shoe guided him to the outside for a clear run, the horse rested, captured in stride and prevailed by 3/4 of a hard earned length. After the race, Shoemaker said,”He is green, and I guess this should be expected, but this might be a good horse.”
Ten days later Shoemaker and Dr. Fager showed up at Aqueduct for the Champagne Stakes and has been forced the even-money favored. He wound up getting cooked at a pace duel and suffered his first defeat by just a span to Successor, who would later be named champion 2-year-old.
Dr. Fager took the upcoming six-months off due to an illness but came back with a vengeance on April 15 to win The Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct by a 1/2 length over the exact tough Damascus. He won his second start in The Withers Stakes by six-lengths and subsequently traveled to Garden State Park for Your Jersey Derby.
Dr. Fager faced a little area of four and has been shipped off as the .30 cent on a buck favorite. Rider Manny Ycaza was instructed by Nerud to send Dr. Fager to the lead and improve his position out there and that’s exactly what the pair did. Going wire-to-wire unchallenged, Ycaza guided Dr. Fager to a decisive six-and-a-half span victory. But many horses were banging each other behind the leader and the stewards may have overestimated the involvement of Dr. Fager. He was taken down and put for”herding,” though he had been apparent during the race and was all alone at the wire. The runner-up, In Truth was granted the win.
You couldn’t have a story like that without a bit of a conspiracy factor. Rumor has it that a particular steward named Keene Daingerfield didn’t like Nerud and loathed Ycaza due to his aggressive riding strategies. Nerud always felt the disqualification was”prejudiced.”
What makes the disqualification an entire shame is there were not many blemishes on Dr. Fager’s album however, the rumble in New Jersey was among these. The colt goes on to win his next 13 of 14 races, his only loss in the sequence happened while running behind a couple decent horses called Damascus and Buckpasser. In the last race of his career, Dr. Fager would carry a remarkable 139 lbs., spotting his rivals as much as 34 pounds. In The Vosburgh Stakes at Aqueduct. He also won the race by six lengths and set a new history for seven furlongs.
But later that season, Dr. Fager would blow off a tendon and was retired. Just three horses had ever finished in front of him, Damascus, Buckpasser and Successor.