Damascus (horse)

Damascus (horse)
Sire Sword Dancer
Grandsire Sun Glow
Dam Kerala
Damsire My Babu
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1964
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Mrs. Edith W. Bancroft
Owner Mrs. Edith W. Bancroft
Trainer Frank Y. Whiteley, Jr.
Record 32: 21-7-3
Earnings $1,176,781
Major wins
Remsen Stakes (1966)
Preakness Stakes (1967)
Belmont Stakes (1967)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (1967)
American Derby (1967)
Aqueduct Handicap (1967, 1968)
Wood Memorial Stakes (1967)
Woodward Stakes (1967)
Dwyer Stakes (1967)
Travers Stakes (1967)
Leonard Richards Stakes (1967)
Bay Shore Stakes (1967)
William Dupont Jr. Handicap (1968)
Brooklyn Handicap (1968)
San Fernando Stakes (1968)
Malibu Stakes (1968)
United States Champion 3-Yr-Old colt (1967)
United States Champion Handicap Horse (1967)
United States Horse of the Year (1967)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1974)
#16 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on September 20, 2006

Damascus (1964–1995) was a thoroughbred race horse sired by Sword Dancer (1959's Horse of the Year) out of Kerala (by My Babu) foaled at the Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Though he finished third in the 1967 Kentucky Derby (a high-strung horse, the humidity depleted him and the noise of the crowd spooked him; he was given a stable pony thereafter to calm him down), he won so many of the other big races—the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes*, the Jockey Club Gold Cup*, the Wood Memorial, the Travers Stakes, the Dwyer Stakes (closing from 12 lengths back and spotting the runner up 16 pounds), the Woodward Stakes*—that he was 1967's Horse of the Year. And he did this in a year when not only the great Dr. Fager was racing, but so was Buckpasser. In Blood-Horse magazine's top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Buckpasser ranks 14th and Dr. Fager ranks 6th. In a race many consider the "Race of the Century," Damascus won the 1967 Woodward by 10 lengths over both of these horses after his connections, as well as those of Buckpasser, used stablemates to set a blistering pace, thus weakening Dr. Fager. Damascus himself ranks number 16 in the Blood Horse listing. In 1967, he was Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old colt, and shared the champion handicap male honors with Buckpasser.

Damascus was owned and bred by Mrs. Edith W. Bancroft, whose father, William Woodward, Sr., owned Belair Stud and won five Belmonts in the 1930s. Edith Bancroft inherited the famed Belair white silks with red polka dots and scarlet cap but never used Belair as a stable name. Ironically, the greatest race of the horse's life was named for his owner's father. He was trained by Hall of Famer Frank Whiteley, Jr. and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Willie Shoemaker.

Damascus won the Travers Stakes (by 22 lengths), the Remsen Stakes, the American Derby (another explosive performance, setting a new track record), the Aqueduct Handicap (against older horses and carrying top weight), the Leonard Richards Stakes, the Bay Shore Stakes, the Brooklyn Handicap (beating Dr. Fager, who had beaten him in the Suburban Handicap two weeks earlier), the William Dupont Jr. Handicap, the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes, and the Malibu Stakes.

He bowed a tendon while racing in his second Jockey Club Gold Cup, coming in last, which was the only time in his career he was out of the top three. Whitely retired him to stud.

In his three-year-old season, Damascus set an earnings record for a single season ($817,941) that held until Secretariat came along almost a decade later.

Out of 32 lifetime starts, Damascus won 21 times, placed seven times, and came home third three times. His career earnings amounted to $1,176,781. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974.

At stud at Arthur B. Hancock, Jr.'s Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky, Damascus sired 71 stakes winners before being pensioned in 1989. He was especially successful with his daughters who produced champions. He died in his paddock at the age of 31 on August 8, 1995, and was buried at Claiborne.


  • Races normally held at Belmont Park, but in the years Damascus raced were held at Aqueduct, are designated by *.


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