The Mighty Forego

It was May 18, 1974, the day of the Carter Handicap at Belmont Park. As I looked at the tote board, I couldn't believe the odds. Favored at 7-5 was Forego, who obviously was running in the Carter strictly as a prep for the Metropolitan Handicap, having come off back-to-back victories at 1 1/4 miles in the Widener and Gulfstream Park Handicaps.

Forego was riding a five-race winning streak, but those two handicaps were his breakout races, and at the time he did not have anywhere near the reputation he would later command. As a bettor, it was illogical to think trainer Sherrill Ward and owner Martha Gerry had great expectations of victory, with Forego dropping back to seven furlongs off five consecutive two-turn races, the last two at 1 1/4 miles, in which he was all out to defeat Darby Dan's plucky little stretch runner True Knight.

To make his task even more difficult, his Carter foes included arguably the fastest horse in the country, Mr. Prospector, who had already set a track record of 1:07 4/5 at Gulfstream in 1973, a track record of 1:08 3/5 at Garden State Park in ‘74, and had won two other races in '74 in 1:08 1/5 at Gulfstream and 1:09 flat at Aqueduct. And he won each time by big margins.

Also in the field was Tartan Stable's Lonetree, who had defeated Mr. Prospector that year in the seven-furlong Poinciana Handicap at Hialeah in a blazing 1:21 flat, breaking the track record by almost three-fifths of a second. Add to those two speedballs, Timeless Moment, who had equaled the six-furlong track record of 1:08 3/5 at Aqueduct the year before, just missed the 6 1/2-furlong track record at Belmont by two-fifths of a second, and had won a pair of seven-furlong allowance races at Aqueduct that spring in 1:22 1/5 and 1:22 2/5. Still another in the field was William Haggin Perry's Forage, who was coming off a second-place finish (disqualified to third) in the seven-furlong San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita in 1:21 1/5. He would go on to break the track record for a mile at Aqueduct two months later, winning an allowance race in 1:33 1/5 before capturing the Du Pont and Atlantic City Handicaps.

So, why should the stretch-running Forego beat so many brilliant horses in his first sprint in six months, carrying topweight of 129 pounds? Well, as I was about to find out, because he's Forego.

Mr. Prospector, as expected, shot to the lead and led by 1 1/2 lengths over Lonetree through fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 flat. Forego was back in last, nine lengths off the pace, and looked to have an impossible task. A sucker bet if I ever saw one. Then he began making up ground steadily under Heliodoro Gustines, circling his field and closing in on the leaders. At this moment, I first came to the realization that we were looking at something special.

Mr. Prospector was being pushed along by Walter Blum, as was Lonetree. But here was Forego in an out-and-out gallop, with his ears up and Gustines sitting motionless in the saddle, his hands tucked up near his chest. Without the slightest bit of encouragement, Forego blew by Mr. Prospector with more than a quarter of a mile still to run. He opened up by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole and was still under wraps as he coasted to the wire 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Mr. Prospector in 1:22 1/5.

This to me was the beginning of the Forego dynasty, when we first realized this was no ordinary horse. Normally, statistics do not play a major role in these blogs, but Forego's stats over the course of his career were so remarkable they must be mentioned before anything else. And they must be prefaced by saying that Forego was one of the most unsound horses you're likely to see, with sesamoid problems that plagued him throughout his career, as well as calcium deposits. When Frank Whiteley took over his training in 1976, he told owner Martha Gerry that Forego had the worst legs he'd ever seen on a horse.  It was said about Forego that he had one good leg. Whiteley would sit outside his barn every day hosing down Forego's legs for several hours. The resulting puddle was so large it was known as Lake Whiteley.

As Whiteley said two years ago, "Everybody laughed at me when I took him, even Doc (Alex) Harthill, who X-rayed him and told me, ‘Frank, you haven't got a chance with this horse.' It was the constant hosing of his legs that helped get him to the races. I got a picture of in my bedroom of me and two other guys runnin' three hoses on him at the same time. We'd hose him twice a day for two to three hours each time. We also did a lot of massaging. His ankles were horrible to look at from so much wear and tear. He was an amazing horse to do the things he did."

Forego's performance in the Carter was indicative of how versatile he was. But we found out for sure later that year. Just imagine, in a span of only six weeks, a horse winning the 1 1/2-mile Woodward Stakes, then the seven-furlong Vosburgh Handicap (in 1:21 3/5 under 131 pounds), and finally the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. At the end of the year, he became the only horse in history to win the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup and be voted champion sprinter the same year.

To further demonstrate his versatility, he won four of his five starts, with one second, at distances of 1 1/2 miles or longer, and won eight of his 12 starts, with two seconds and two thirds, at seven furlongs.

In his first start as an 8-year-old, a seven-furlong allowance dash, he defeated that year's co-champion sprinter Dr. Patches in 1:21 3/5.

Then we come to consistency, likely Forego's most amazing attribute, considering how unsound he was.

From May 30, 1973 until Aug. 6, 1977, Forego went an incredible 45 consecutive races without finishing worse than fourth. In fact, he finished third or better in 43 of those races. During this streak, Forego ran in 31 handicaps, was highweighted in all but one, winning 19 of them.

Which brings us to weight-carrying ability. Forego finished in the money in 21 of the 24 races in which he carried 130 pounds or more, including 13 wins, five seconds, and three thirds. In these 24 starts, the average weight he carried was just under 134 pounds. In the 14 races in which he carried 134 or more, he finished in the money in 12 of them, with six wins, four seconds, and two thirds. He was fourth in another, and the only time he was off the board was over a very sloppy track in the Whitney, a race that will be discussed later.

Forego's most memorable victory was the 1976 Marlboro Cup, in which he turned in a spectacular stretch run from way out in the middle of the track to nip Travers winner Honest Pleasure at the wire under a staggering 137 pounds in the slop, missing the track record by a fifth of a second.

In his previous start, he defeated Dance Spell and Honest Pleasure by 1 1/4 lengths in the Woodward Handicap with another furious stretch run. In one of the great exhibitions of speed and weight-carrying ability, he ran the 1 1/8 miles in a near-track-record 1:45 4/5, carrying 135 pounds.

After winning five straight races (four of them carrying 135 pounds, 137 pounds, 133 pounds, and 136 pounds), he finally was stopped by the weight at age 7, missing by a neck in the Suburban Handicap under 138 pounds.

After finishing second by 11 lengths in the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn under 137 and being virtually eased in the Whitney Handicap over a slippery track he could never get hold of under 136 pounds, it looked as if the Mighty Forego finally was nearing the end of the line. Mrs. Gerry and Whiteley wanted to scratch him in the Whitney, but because so many people had shown up to see Forego, Mrs. Gerry didn't want to disappoint them and decided to let him run. Whiteley told Bill Shoemaker before the race if he saw Forego wasn't handling the track after the first few strides to just sit on him and let him run around there and bring him back safe.

Forego returned to Belmont to point for the Woodward. This would be the big test to see whether he had any more to give. Unfortunately, the track came up sloppy again, leaving Whiteley and Mrs. Gerry with another tough decision. Unlike the slick conditions in the Whitney, this was more of a drying out slop. Forego would have to run over the wet surface carrying 133 pounds, giving 18 pounds to Great Contractor, the horse who beat him by 11 lengths in the Brooklyn; 12 pounds to J.O. Tobin, who was making his first start since annihilating Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew in the Swaps Stakes in a blazing 1:58 3/5 for the 1 1/4 miles; and 19 pounds to Silver Series, winner of the Ohio, American, and Hawthorne Derbys and third in the Travers.

Whiteley, Mrs. Gerry, Shoemaker, and Frank's son David, a successful trainer in his own right, met in the tunnel several hours before the race to discuss the situation. David said he didn't want any part of it and left. Mrs. Gerry, having learned from the Saratoga experience, this time wanted to scratch and wait for the Marlboro Cup two weeks later. Shoemaker had ridden in one of the early races and said he thought the track was too bad to take a chance. Whiteley, who wanted to scratch in the Whitney, said the horse was at the top of his game and ready to run. He knew he had Forego in the best shape he could possibly get him and felt he couldn't keep him that good for another two weeks. Whiteley was convinced Forego was ready for a big effort when the horse bit two people in the barn that morning. So, all day, fans waited for the inevitable announcement that Forego had been scratched. It never came.

As a huge fan of Forego's, I was extremely apprehensive like everyone else and hung out by Whiteley's barn, waiting to walk with him and Forego to the paddock. Forego emerged from the barn looking fantastic and it was apparent he was in the zone. The only question was the track, which still was listed as sloppy.

The fans had their doubts as well, making Forego the 9-5 favorite, his highest odds in more than two years. J.O. Tobin, who was bet down to 5-2, set most of the early pace along with Proud Birdie. They cut out swift fractions, with Forego in eighth, about 10 lengths back.

As they hit the far turn, all eyes were on Forego. Would he make his patented sweeping run or were we watching the end of an era? No one had any idea how he was handling the track, so we waited and hoped. Then it happened. In a flash, Forego kicked in and began picking off horses one by one with that big sweeping move, just as he had done so many times before. Track announcer Chic Anderson bellowed to the crowd, "He's gonna run today, folks."

And run he did; just like the Forego of old. He was still fourth at the eighth pole, but only a half-length off the new battling leaders Cinteelo, Silver Series, and Great Contractor. Forego, as usual, was well out in the middle of track, and it was obvious he had the others measured. He charged to the front and drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:48 flat. I found myself screaming with everyone else. As he crossed the finish line, the goose bumps emerged in full force. Forego was back. The 1977 Woodward to this day remains one of the most emotional and satisfying races I've ever experienced.

But, as it turned out, Forego was back only for this one brief moment. His ankles caught up to him after the race and he was put away for the year. He came back the following June to defeat Dr. Patches, and then beat only one horse, finishing fifth, in the Suburban Handicap. His ankles had finally betrayed him. It was time to call it quits.

Looking back at Forego's career, it is amazing how consistently fast he came home in his races, despite his unsoundness and the massive weights he had to carry. In the Met Mile, Marlboro Cup, and Gulfstream Park Handicap, he closed his final quarter in :23 and change. In five other grade I stakes he came home in :24 and change. In the Vosburgh and Woodward, he closed his final eighth in :11 and change, and :12 flat in the Carter and :12 2/5 in the aforementioned '77 Woodward.

In all, he defeated eight champions or classic winners - Foolish Pleasure (Kentucky Derby winner and champion 2-year-old male), Honest Pleasure (champion 2-year-old male and winner of the Travers), Avatar (Belmont Stakes winner), Wajima (champion 3-year-old male and winner of the Travers), Dr. Patches (co-champion sprinter), J.O. Tobin (co-champion sprinter and champion 2-year-old in England), Master Derby (Preakness winner), and Summer Guest (Coaching Club American Oaks winner).

I visited Forego with my wife shortly after his retirement when he was residing at John Ward's farm overlooking Keeneland Racetrack. John told us he still loved the cheers and would start running around his paddock whenever he'd here the roar of the crowd.

Forego was standing in the middle of his paddock grazing, paying little attention to us. In a feeble and seemingly moronic attempt to see if he did indeed react to the applause and to get a good photo of him, we decided: ‘What the heck, let's start clapping.' Well, it wasn't exactly the sound of the Keeneland crowd during the races, but sure enough, ol' Forego picked his head up and began running around his paddock, ultimately stopping by the fence where we were able to get great head shots and a few pats on the forehead.

Several other visits followed over the years at the Kentucky Horse Park, this time with our daughter.

Forego always had a larger-than-life presence and knew what he liked and didn't like. I can remember mornings at the barn when former trainer Eddie Hayward, who took care of Sherrill Ward's barn when the trainer was ill, would come to visit carrying a brown paper bag filled with apples. One morning, he arrived when Forego was out grazing. The big horse took one look at Hayward, saw the bag, and dragged his hotwalker over to him. He knew Hayward meant apples. It was quite a sight seeing him polish off one apple after another while Hayward conversed with Mrs. Gerry, who visited the barn often.

It was after Forego was turned over to Whiteley in early 1976 that I became good friends with Frank, having only previously spoken to him on occasion. During my first visit to Frank's barn, we were sitting on a tack box in the shed row when a huge dark bay horse walked by, just as we were talking about Forego.

"There's ‘ol Forego there," Whiteley said. Well, I not only knew that wasn't Forego, I knew it was Ruffian's brother Buckfinder, who was almost the same size and color as Forego, but not quite as big and massive. I didn't have a clue how to respond. Why would Whiteley make such a comment? I had to say something, so I replied, "That kinda looks like Buckfinder to me." Whiteley shot back, "It is." He was testing me, and from then on we became good friends until the day he died.

It seems as if people don't quite know where to rank Forego on the list of great horses, just as they are uncertain about other great geldings such as Kelso and John Henry.

I will say this: for all he had to overcome, for all the incredible feats he accomplished, and for all the heart-pounding thrills he provided, he was as unique a Thoroughbred as ever set foot on a racetrack. That uniqueness, combined with his extraordinary talent, made him in my opinion one of the truly great horses of all time.

For additional information on the great gelding and three-time Horse of the Year, you may be interested in Forego: Thoroughbred Legend.



Leave a Comment:

Fred Lipkin

A wonderful tribute to a great champion - Bob Coglianese sent me a large color photo of Forego winning that Woodward and when Bill Shoemaker came to Penn National Race Course in the late 70's, he autographed it for me. That picture, and one of Secretariat's classic Belont win signed by Ron Turcotte, are my two most prized possesions from more than 40 years in racing. They are truly "Priceless".

21 Jun 2009 7:56 PM

Oh geez. You always make me teary eyed. I loved Forego, and it was one of my great thrills (and honors) to see him at the Horse Park.

21 Jun 2009 8:10 PM

Frank and Forego - two of the all time greats!!  I wonder who Frank thought was the best he trained - Damascus, Ruffian, Forego?

21 Jun 2009 8:37 PM

A wonderful tribute to an amazing horse.  The question of who was the greatest of all time is clearly subjective but, for me, mighty Forego stands alone!

21 Jun 2009 8:47 PM

Great piece, Steve.  There's no doubt Forego was one of the best ever. I can still see him running down Honest Pleasure that rainy day at Belmont and wondering how in the world he was ever able to do that.  I also remember the day he, John Henry and Kelso all paraded at Belmont on one of those "Super Saturdays" in the early fall.  What an assemblage of thoroughbred royalty.  I believe Kelso died soon afterwards possibly caused by the excitement of the day.  He was quite old at the time and wasn't used to the big crowds anymore.  I was very saddened to hear that he had died.  Getting back to Forego, he was unique.  I doubt whether any equine has ever accomplished as much as he did and did it under the most trying of circumstances.  You talk about courage in a thoroughbred and he's the poster boy.  May he rest in peace. Thanks for some great memories.

21 Jun 2009 8:51 PM

Dear Steve: I could not agree with you more. I was there to see Secretariat at Belmont the day he won by 31, on the undercard Forego also made it to the winner circle. From there Forego went on to  epitomeize what a race horse should be. My father and I loved watching Saturday races from NY, with Frank Wright, and we enjoyed seeing Forego win many Stakes under massive imposts. I got to see him up close at the Kentucky Horse Park in the early 80's and was impressed with what a massive specimen he was. When he died my wife and I felt compelled to go down to Lexington to visit his grave. I only wish that those halcyon days of America racing were still with us.

   Also thanks for the comments on Yeats. In Europe the sport and breed are still honored.

21 Jun 2009 8:57 PM
Mike S

Whenever I speak of the "greatest of all all time" my list always includes SECRETARIAT, SPECTACULAR BID, AFFIRMED, SEATTLE SLEW and FOREGO.

21 Jun 2009 9:12 PM

Excellent.  Your story telling is just what horse racing needs.  This once again goes to prove that geldings are very important to the sport and those who are against having them in classic races are wrong.  Forego came from the same year as Secretariat.  Could you imagine the story you would have to tell about some of the great champions if it wasn't for the breeding shed.

I don't know if you've written an article about Buckpasser recently and if you haven't I sure hope you do.  Here is another old timer that is often forgotten about.  A horse as good as he was and he never made it to the triple crown races.

21 Jun 2009 9:27 PM

WOW  i really had no idea that Forego was that great!!! i knew he was a brilliant racehorse but WOW no idea he was that great!!!!

21 Jun 2009 9:50 PM
Soldier Course


This was beautiful. Thanks.

21 Jun 2009 9:55 PM
Greg J.

     Once again, Great Tribute to an amazing athlete, Mr. Haskin.  After reading your great tribute, I had to watch a few of Forego's Races, Knowing the back stories while watching them made it that much more enjoyable! What a courageous horse to fight back at the end like that, over and over, Thanks...

Carter Handicap at Belmont(1974):

Forego's Amazing Four Consecutive Woodwards(1974-1977):

Thanks Again Mr. Haskin...

21 Jun 2009 10:04 PM
Virgil Wolfe

Wow. Thank you. Thanks for sharing such an incredible memory of this great horse and giving me the feeling like I'd known him too.  Great. Inspiring.

21 Jun 2009 10:09 PM

Thanks Steve.

Forego was a truly great handicap horse. Other than John Henry, who really didnt carry the wieght Forego did, there hasn't been a horse like Forego and it is doubtful there will be another. Having seen Lava Man and Best Pal race many times in person, I was a huge fan of both. However, neither could rightfully be compared to Forego.

In addition to Forego's 14 gr.1 victories, 6 gr. 2 victories, and 4 gr.3s, I conservatively estimate that Forego was "handicapped" or "weighted" out of 8 other stakes wins, including 6 gr.1s.  Had Forego raced under the weighting norms now used, he very possibly could have won more than 20 gr.1 races. And though Forego's 3 Horse of the Year titles are 2 less than Kelso's total, if one goes back and carefully analyzes the wieght each carried and how much each conceded in their races, it will be evident that Forego was forced to endure greater demands. In my opinion, Forego was the greatest weight carrier of all time(I'm not necessarilly stating that Forego was a better overall horse than Kelso, just that he had to carry more weight, and face larger weight spreads, while still winning almost as many prestigious races as Kelso although not racing for quite as long).

I was able to see Forego, as well as John Henry, at the Kentucky Horse Park in 1993 when my father and I drove out to Kentucky as a  high school graduation present. I will always cherish the trip. Skip Away and Cigar did have to carry some weight as well, but Forego and John seem to be the last of their kind.


Any issues with John Henry only being 23rd on the Bloodhorse Top 100?

21 Jun 2009 10:22 PM

Thank you for remembering Forego!  i too was lucky enough to see him at the horse park.  Sadly, we were there while John Henry was away trying for his comeback.  Can you do a blog about another great gelding, Fort Marcy?  

21 Jun 2009 11:15 PM

To Skyfire:  I saw and interview once with Mr. Whitely and he said Ruffian was the best horse he ever trained. I also saw where Lucian Lauren said she was the best horse he ever saw run. Who knows, we all have our memories and thoughts but Forego was truly an amazing horse, one of the best.

21 Jun 2009 11:20 PM
Soldier Course


I bought the Blood-Horse Top 100 Thoroughbreds book in 2002, the year I started developing my passion for racing. I didn't know enough back then to form much of an opinion of the rankings. I revisit the book every few months and mull over the rankings. John Henry's #23 seems unconscionable to me now.

The other ranking that's staggering appears in the later Blood-Horse book about Racing's 100 Top Moments. The inaugural Breeders' Cup is #1, but poor Tiznow's feat of consecutive wins in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2000 and 2001 isn't even on the charts! It got an "honorable mention" at #112. I'd sure like to hear the panel's explanation of that injustice.

21 Jun 2009 11:30 PM

Words almost cannot describe our this beautiful tribute, yours do. Thank you So, Steve.

22 Jun 2009 12:38 AM

Great article, Steve! I always loved Forego, and cheered for him every time he ran.  He was like a freight train coming down the stretch, just relentless.  

22 Jun 2009 1:17 AM
Tracy W.

I became interested in horse racing too late to have the chance to meet Forego. He died when I was seven, and the first time I visited the Horse Park was last year.

Still, from the moment I first read about him to seeing his 1976 Marlboro on youtube, I fell in love. Kelso and John Henry were incredible, of course, but for everything Forego has done, I think of him as the greatest gelding to ever step foot on a racetrack.

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for making me feel like I'd actually gotten the chance to meet him like I always wished I had.

22 Jun 2009 1:23 AM

They don't make 'em like that anymore! You can still see the Carter won by Forego on youtube:

22 Jun 2009 2:40 AM

 Bill Nack's Sports Illustrated article on    - or search "Any distance, any weight"

22 Jun 2009 3:15 AM
lookout mama

i lived in new york in the 60's - 80's so got to see many of the great horses of our times.  but none of them ever made me call in sick to work just to go watch them run except Forego.  still one of my favorites of all time.

22 Jun 2009 3:43 AM

Brilliant display,Steve.You´re-naturally not gelded-"the Forego of the thoroughbred writters".In Spain,20 years ago or so,begins his racing life in claimers events in Pineda racetrack(Sevilla,Andalucía) a gelded called ROYAL GAIT...two years later won the Ascot Gold Cup in record time but was disqualified ominously(he won in a canter by 4 lenghts!).Proved to be a tough heart-lioness horse,with great tenue and electrifying turn of speed,and amazingly years after won the Cheltenham hurdle,only to meet the guilty dead in the track "with their boots on".Surely you know this history,but arguably many fans not.Thank you,Steve,cheers of your regular reader & fan nº1 in Spain,and for all people sorry for my awful english.

22 Jun 2009 4:52 AM

Thanks for the great tribute - the article was everthing I'd hoped it would be. You did Forego proud.  Kathy

22 Jun 2009 6:44 AM

Great's fun to see the younger fans on the blog who never knew much about or got to see Forego race appreciate him through your writing...

Part of my Honeymoon was a stop at the Kentucky Horse Park to see the great Forego...I got to meet and pat him...aaah.

22 Jun 2009 6:47 AM

Thanks for making my day! I remember many Saturdays as a child, jumping up and down on the sofa and cheering for Forego. When I got the chance to meet him at the Kentucky Horse Park it was a dream come true. Reliving these memories brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. I don't care where anyone else ranks Forego, he will always be No. 1 to me.

22 Jun 2009 6:50 AM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

The 1/2 mile time for Forego's 7-4-75 Brooklyn 1 1/4 mile was :46 3/5. The 1/2 mile time for Ruffian's 7-6-75 1 1/4 mile match race was :44 3/5

22 Jun 2009 7:33 AM
robert c romine jr.

i had the oppurtunity to work for mr.ward the last two years of his hall of fame career,and saw first hand what a great horseman and spokesperson he was for the "toughest game in town",horse racing.the job he and his crew did with FOREGO in the early years is what gave frank the building blocks for finishing out the illustrious career of the greatest race horse of the modern era.

22 Jun 2009 7:39 AM
Greg B

Thanks for the great article on a magnificent horse. Forego brought me so many thrills. It is such a tribute to him that he ran so many great races carrying enormous weight while having the physical problems he had. I will never forget him catching Honest Pleasure at the wire.

22 Jun 2009 8:20 AM

Possibly my favorite horse of all time, & certainly one of the best! His '76 Marlboro Cup still sticks in my head to this day. Thank you, Steve, for a great write-up on a great champion!

22 Jun 2009 8:27 AM

Steve, as GOT me again.   I remember watching FOREGO run MANY times and as the weights got higher I kept wondering if there was ANY weight that could stop my mind there never was!   The fact that he was so "unsound" and still accomplished all that he did is a testatment both to HIS heart and Frank Whiteley's METICULOUS care of this GREAT HORSE.

It's oe of the greatest shames of Horse Racing that our GREAT geldings, the banner carriers of Racing who continue onward (while th colts get retired to stud at an early age)never seem to get the same "breathless" honor of the stallions.

It also speaks to the breeding industry that we have yet to see a horse of ANY sex with FOREGO's versatility and longevity.  

The fans all miss having a FOREGO to cheer on year after year!

Hellooooo Racing Industry....are ya paying attention?

Let's hope MINE THAT BIRD continues onward and UPward......the fans need it and so does racing!

Once again Steve, I read EVERYTHIN you write, because like watching FOREGO.......I'm never dissapointed!  :)

22 Jun 2009 8:28 AM

Thanks for the walk through memory lane Steve. How I wish Secretariat had raced as a four year old. Meeting up with Forego would have been something to remember.  

22 Jun 2009 8:50 AM
rich loughrey

Great article about a GREAT horse. Forego was one huge horse and a joy to watch. I still don't believe he won that Marlboro and almost ripped up a $50 win ticket.  The Fox was the best trainer of his day and maybe of all time.

22 Jun 2009 9:27 AM
Steve from St. Louis

Steve: You were a involved with the DRF, working inside for Freddie Grossman while I was working for John McEvoy in the Chicago office. Frank Whiteley brought a horse to Hawthorne for a race and I went to his barn for an interview. "I don't talk to the press," Whiteley told me. He was a real son of "gun". His test of you with Buckfinder is soooo typical of his disdain for the press. That he "took" to you speaks volumes. As for the great gelding, his win in the Marlboro under 137 pounds on a track he detested with ankles and a stride not suited for a slippery surface was THE most impressive effort by a thoroughbred I ever witnessed.

22 Jun 2009 9:58 AM
Ed Vomacka

Great memories of a great horse. I was lucky enough to see him run several times in my youth. By sheer coincidence I talked a few college friends from Albany into taking Amtrack and the Belmont special to have a weekday at the races. Getting off the train in NY I rushed to but a Form and was pleasantly surprised to see Forego was making his 8 year old debut! Some of my friends were new to racing so I was glad I had such a magnificent horse to show them. After Forego steadily advanced on Dr. Patches and got the win one of my neophyte friends was hooked. He said "That horse knew he was going to win!!" Alas it turned out to be his last hurrah but he still wowed the fans new and old.  

22 Jun 2009 10:03 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks everyone for sharing your own memories of Forego.

Steve, yes, Whiteley could be as ornery as they come. But there was a softer side he rarely showed. I got to see it in his later years, but he was still pretty crusty. One day at Saratogs, he asked me to turn on the water for him. It was sort of an old fashioned pump and I was trying to figure it out when Frank barked: "Goddamn city boy; doesn't even know how to turn on the goddamn water." But that was Frank. Goddamn and sonofabitch were his two favorite words.

22 Jun 2009 10:11 AM

I was a great Foolish&Honest Pleasure fan and it was hard for me to believe what this horse could do. remember this was the same horse who finished 4th to Secretariat in the KENTUCKY DERBY in 1973 a great horse with a great heart.

22 Jun 2009 10:13 AM
Soldier Course


A few years ago there was a great feature article in my local newspaper about Frank Y. Whitely Jr., who was living here in South Carolina. The reporter, Charles Bennett, spent some time with Mr. Whitely, and he had some great crusty moments with him, like yours with the water pump.

I sent the article to Edward L. Bowen over at the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, near The Blood-Horse offices. I think Mr. Bowen requested and obtained a digital copy of that article from the newspaper, which he probably would be glad to share with you.

22 Jun 2009 10:26 AM

Great article! Anyone who was fortunate to have been around between the years 1955 thru 1980 saw the best of the best in horse racing. Just like baseball years 1950 thru 1957 the real pros became legends...Kelso...Ruffian...Forego.Isn't it sad we shall never is racing as it was...and never will be again. I guess I'll just go to Kentucky and reminisce!!  

22 Jun 2009 10:31 AM


Wonderful memories of an amazing horse.

I have no trouble placing Forego (and Kelso and John Henry) right in the top tier of great horses.  They did what the greatest "entire" colts did not - had incredibly long, successful, top level racing careers carrying weight that would have stopped a tractor - and they did it with winning style.

I loved Forego - and always remember a TV piece done on CBS Sunday Morning by Charles Kuralt - who loved racing, BTW (he also did an amazing piece on Secretariat right after his death.)  Kuralt narrated and called Forego "a freight train with matchsticks for legs," which I always thought was one of the grandest and most apt descriptions of him.

He was an amazing, amazing racehorse.

22 Jun 2009 10:55 AM
Soldier Course


I have e-mailed the reporter Charles Bennett to see if he has a digital version of his article about Frank Whiteley that I could forward to you. I searched my local paper's archives after my last comment to you, but I could not locate the article (in the meantime I had corrected my misspelling of "Whiteley" before searching).

22 Jun 2009 10:58 AM

I remember picking up the DRF the day after one of Forego's HOY awards was announced.  I'm paraphrasing now, but the opening sentence went something like, " A monster stalks the land...."  Fitting, indeed.

22 Jun 2009 10:59 AM

I never actually got to see him but I followed him in the Blood Horse and other publications and watched whenever his races were shown on TV,

Great horse.

Great heart.

What else can you say?

And Steve: you do good work.  Keep telling us/reminding us about the good horses.

22 Jun 2009 11:20 AM

There will never be another warrior like Forego,  that's for sure.  They aren't made like that anymore.  That couragious horse ran with only one sound leg. Incredible he was.

22 Jun 2009 11:31 AM
Greg J.

Soldier Course,

    Here is the article you were searching for, Great Article!, Hope that is the one you were talking about?

"Hall of Fame trainer reflects on storied career": Public Library

22 Jun 2009 11:37 AM
Soldier Course

Greg J.:

Thank you so much. This is the article.

22 Jun 2009 12:11 PM
Ernie Munick

Thanks for this, Steve. And so many great comments: Big Red as a 4-year-old versus Forego---can you imagine? Atomic stuff.

Forego is also the favorite horse of the Mighty Brad Thomas, linemaker, handicapper, TV analyst at Monmouth Park. When I think of one, I always think of the other.

22 Jun 2009 12:53 PM

Thank you for such a great article. Some of those foals of 1970 were amazing in their own right - Secretariat, Forego, Sham, Mr. Prospector, just to name a few. Someone should write a book on the "Class of 1970".

To be as good as Forego was with the weight assignments and soundness issues, seems like he should have been ranked higher than 8th in the top 100!

22 Jun 2009 12:55 PM
sweet terchi

Great tribute. Thank you. You brought back a lot of memories, for a moment there I was back in time, heart pounding and screaming "do it! do it!". Sometimes I wonder if it just wasn't the will (energy vibe) of all his fans that helped him thunder home on his fragile legs. A magnificent horse with the heart of a champion.

22 Jun 2009 1:12 PM
s lee

Ah, Forego.

It's great that there are so many videos of him out on YouTube - you know I still stop the replay of the '76 Woodward at the top of the stretch and look at where he is out in the middle of nowhere, how much distance he has to make up, how wet the track is and think "there's no way that horse is going to win this race" - but he does, every time!  Somebody, I think it was Patrick Robinson in a book of Richard Stone Reeves' paintings, described Forego that day as "traveling like some spare parts fresh out of Cape Canaveral".

Thanks for the memories.

22 Jun 2009 1:37 PM
Lady Ruffian

Wonderful article on the greatest gelding Steve. Thanks!  stories like this make me respect this era in horseracing even more. i don't think there will ever be another one like Forego...

22 Jun 2009 1:38 PM
2 time valley player of the year

3 of the greatest handicap horses ever Kelso, Forego,John Henry ran with unbelieveable weights as a true handicap and were in superb condition. Nowadays horse never carry more then 126lbs in a handicap race and if they were assigned more trainers and owners would refuse to run. The great hnadicap races where horses were truly handicapped are gone. Now they have to take vacations because they are so tired.Kelso won carrying 142 lbs in a stakes race! these were the last of a great breed and for those of you who never got to see any of them run you missed some of the most exciting races ever .happy that you can watch those old races on the internet. that's when racing was in its prime.

22 Jun 2009 2:51 PM
2 time valley player of the year

will any horse ever match Kelso's 5 straight horse of the year honors 1960 thru 1964.Never again.

22 Jun 2009 2:52 PM
2 time valley player of the year

How about the 60's for great horses Kelso,Buckpasser, Damascus, Dr Fager who set the world mile record at Arlington Park carrying a staggering 134lbs[YouTube]!Oh only if there were horses like that nowadays.Now Rachel A is called great -what!

22 Jun 2009 3:00 PM
2 time valley player of the year

I know this blog is about the great Forego but it stirred so many memories of the great handicap champions i have 1 other piece of info which only 1 horse can claim.

1968 Dr Fager was

horse of the year

Champion sprinter of the year

Champion handicap horse of the year

Co champion turf horse of the year[he beat the co champ]

and Rachel A is called great what a overused adjective.

22 Jun 2009 3:10 PM

In the days of CBS Sports Spectacular and Jack Whittaker and Frank Wright (hosting) Forego was THE STAR of the autumn.  (Yes, kids, N.Y. autumn racing on a major network)  On a hot and humid August day-1996- at the KY Horse Park I finally saw the old boy.  Forego wisely remained under a not too shady tree, observing me with disdain, but I got my pictures there and later in the pavillion.  Thanks Steve for a great reminder of a great horse-and a time when horses were developed with patience and raced for glory.

22 Jun 2009 3:36 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. Fager was turf champion by himself, not co-champion.

22 Jun 2009 4:17 PM

I disagree with your comment that people don't know where to place Forego on their list of great horses. He is widely regcognized as one of the all time greats icluding by the Hall of Fame and Top 10 in Bloodhorse poll of greats of the last century.

22 Jun 2009 4:19 PM

Another of Forego's achievements was that, although he didn't officially win the Handicap Triple Crown (Metropolitan, Suburban, and Brooklyn), he did win all three races over the course of his career.  I call it the "Forego Triple" -- see for more.

22 Jun 2009 4:27 PM
Mike Relva


I agree!

22 Jun 2009 4:37 PM
Mike Relva


Great article as usual! They don't make them like that anymore.

22 Jun 2009 4:38 PM

I was privileged to see Kelso, Forego, as well as Secretariat.

Forego who ran 4th in the Derby (to Secretariat) went on to be a super horse and carried up to 140 pounds.He was a sight to see roaring down the stretch. Secretariat , some think to be the best ever ( Not Me!)lost at level weights to Angle Lght @ 126, lost again to Onion at level wgts of 119 and again to Prove Out getting 7 lbs.  In my mind Secretariat was a great horse (31 length win the Belmont secured his place in history) but he never carried more than 126 lbs. Forego and  Kelso consistently carried well over 130 lbs. Weight a proven factor in US race handicapping disappeared over 30 years ago.  Iwould take Forego & Kelso over Secretariat any day!

22 Jun 2009 4:40 PM

Ah, Forego, my favorite horse. Steve, you REALLY did Forego justice with this article, as only you could.  Occasionally  I pop in my VCR tape of CBS's 1978 year in review, where they showed Forego's races and retirement in the winner's circle, as well as Affirmed and Alydar, and Slew beating Affirmed.  Those were good times for horse racing...

22 Jun 2009 4:43 PM
Steve Haskin

Sal, I dont know what you are disagreeing with. All you say is he was "one of" the greatest. That could mean #2 or #20. I'm saying people don't know whether to put him in the top 5 or top 10 or top 15. You didnt tell me where you would rank him. Can you be more specific other than just saying one of the all-time greats.

22 Jun 2009 4:46 PM

Never saw Forrego running but.. why

I'm I crying?

Thank you Steve!

22 Jun 2009 5:06 PM
mike williams

Forego was second in accomplishment to only Secretariat, from the three year olds of 1973.He representated his generation from year to year taking on the best from 1974 to 1978, at any track,any weight and any distance.His win over Honest Pleasure in the 1976 Marlborough Cup has to rank as one of the great races of all time.What we are missing in today's racing are more horses like Forego,John Henry, and Lava Man.  

22 Jun 2009 5:06 PM

I just took some time to re-watch the Woodward(s)and Marlboro Cup on YouTube and I remembered that I loved that little Dance Spell. I know he had some fine fillies but can't remember where he ended up.  Anyone know?

22 Jun 2009 5:11 PM

I think many of us would agree that we truly miss the iron horses from the 60's on up to the 80's. Can you imagine horses today carrying home 130-142 lbs? On the bright side. I'm getting excited about watching Zenyatta and Life is Sweet run in the Vanity on the 27th. I believe Zenyatta has been  assigned 129.  

22 Jun 2009 5:19 PM

Steve, a wonderful article, you have a great gift and I find myself tearing up so often as I read your great recounts of the past.  They sure don't make them like Forego anymore. I was hoping that Funny Cide would try to fill some great gelding shoes, but unfortunately.  Whatever has happen to the racing industry.  They retire early, refuse to carry weights, run so seldom.  We had some real greats in the 70's!  Maybe Mine That Bird will carry on and make the attempt to fill some great racing shoes.  Thanks again Steve!!

22 Jun 2009 5:30 PM

Thank you for this wonderful trip down memory lane! I was a huge Forego fan, and from his 5 year old season on, I didn't miss a single of Forego's races except the Whitney. The ovation he got returning to the winner's circle after the Marlboro was the greatest I can ever remember hearing at the track. He was truly unique, with an unmistakeable presence, and I put him in my all-time Top 5 for his versatility, his weight-carrying ability and his incredible heart.

22 Jun 2009 5:52 PM


Thanks for the post.  Forego was awesome, one for the ages, so what would that make Ruffian?  We have never seen a filly like her.

22 Jun 2009 6:25 PM
Meleen Drewery

What a great story about a great horse--but we would expect nothing less of you, Mr. Haskins--loved the part about how he would circle in his paddock when hearing the crowd! Priceless!

22 Jun 2009 6:25 PM

With the babying of fragile horses today,how refreshing to salute the great gelding forego.How many current trainers would have the stones to run in a grade1 at 139?

22 Jun 2009 8:50 PM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

Trainer Nerud told me Dr Fager hated running on the grass. Yet he put away Ada L. Rice's Advoctor in deep stretch of UN 'Cap.Seeing him at Atlantic City was like seeing GOD.      BEFORE the Jersey Derby word around here was if Dr Fager won he would be dq. Dr Fager was my favorite of all-time even with his TERRIBLE front legs conformation.

22 Jun 2009 9:01 PM

Can't believe it Steve! Your saying "the Mighty Forego"  is like hearing my father's voice all over again. As a child who learned to love horse racing at my father's elbow, we watched races together on the newly invented "cable tv" back in the mid-late 70's. I was so lucky to see the greats of this era.... The Incomparable Secretariat, the Mighty Forego, three Triple Crown Winners and our beautiful Ruffian.  I can still hear my dad repeating memorable phrases like "Secretariat is widening now, he is moving like a tremendous machine...."    and I remember him turning off the tv that awful July day that took you know who from us.  Certainly lots of memories to bring smiles amid the tears.  Your beautiful writing always tugs at the heart and because you write so eloquently about something I love so much, it helps keep these memories fresh -- it's been too many years since I've been able to share special horse moments with my father; I lost him in 1979.  But the brief time we had together as race fans was one of the most special periods in my life.  And every year at Triple Crown time and every time I visit the horse farms and KY HorsePark, I think of him and how he would have loved to go with me and see the Mighty Forego in all his retired glory and how we would discuss the current state of racing as we know it today.  I'm sure he would agree that they certainly don't build racehorses like they used to.

And one last thing I remember with a smile:  when dad tried to explain to a 10 yr old girl what a gelding was!

22 Jun 2009 9:12 PM

The highlight of my life as a racing fan was visiting Forego and John Henry at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Forego, Kelso, John Henry and Exterminator hold a special place in American racing history.  

22 Jun 2009 10:04 PM
Janesville Liz

Forego was one of the heroes of my teen years. One of my greatest race memories was his unbelievable effort in the 1976 Marlboro Cup, when he was under a staggering 137 pounds and seemed hopelessly beaten and kept coming, under that tremendous weight, to desperately nip Honest Pleasure on the wire, that horse carrying I believe 18-19 pounds less. I followed his every race, and it was both sad when he retired, as he was a staple to watch for so long, but relieved he was retiring in one piece. He could sprint, he could stay, he could carry weight that could hamper an elephant, and he beat rivals much younger than he. And all while chronically unsound. They do not breed horses like him anymore, and that is a pity, for Forego was the essence of a multi-dimensional champion.

22 Jun 2009 10:19 PM
jd williams

i here all the tv people and so caled experts talk about the great horses but for some reason never mention Forego. He was one of the greatest that ever was. How did he carry so much weight so fast. Heart. He had it and gave it every time he steped onto the track.

My best friend Tom got me on his bandwagon after the derby.He said that Forego liked running at the lights at the finish line.I learned to belive it. Whatever it was he was always giving his best and i was privledged to see him run many times. I miss the weighted handicap races the way they used to write them and think it should be brought back. I will always rank him  with the best of all time.

22 Jun 2009 11:15 PM

Tremendous article  Steve. He was the greatest thing God ever made. Nothing and no one ever mattered more to me. Thanks to Lenny Shulman I got to spend an unforgettable afternoon with Forego at the KHP in 1996, 10 months before his passing. No knock on Gustines, but did you ever wonder if another rider might have put him over a few more times. Loved how he changed tactics in the '75 Woodward and ran head to head with Wajima after losing to him twice in a row. I always resented Chic's

"he's gonna run today" call. Thought it made Forego seem like an unreliable  prima donna.

22 Jun 2009 11:16 PM
Steve Haskin

SouthFilly, thanks so much for sharing that. It was a wonderful tribute to your father and your relationship with him. Things that bond parents and their children are always special, no matter what they might be. It sounds like he left you with unforgettable memories.

22 Jun 2009 11:37 PM
Steve Haskin

I almost wrote about that 1975 Woodward, but there were so many races I could have written about and didn't want to get too long-winded. I remember very well how Wajima had beaten him twice and how they changed tactics and dogged him the entire race through very slow fractions. Forego needed to win that race to nail down Horse of the Year. Many people dont realize how good a horse Wajima was.

22 Jun 2009 11:42 PM
Matthew W

Steve I remember Forego way back on Derby day cuz he was my pick in the Derby! He drilled 57 flat before the Derby and just wasn't up to the task vs Secretariat and Sham, finishing a well beaten 4th....But I remember the race with Wajima and Ancient Title, I think it was the Marlboro Cup....and everybody remembers the "race"...I wanna say the Woodward...vs Honest Pleasure...One of racings all time great races, for sure....I remember his getting cold water hosings of his shins every morning for 30 many ways the "Horse Of The 70's"...I never saw him in person but did follow him, I'm sure he would have been "King Of The West" as well, he was just that good....I totally understood the "he's gonna run today"....Forego was old and sore, but when he ran it was lights out, Danny boy.....

22 Jun 2009 11:47 PM
Matthew W

OH STEVE, I'm right with you! Wajima was big time! Terrific three year old, blew right by Ancient Title and held off Forego in the Marlboro Cup I believe....Forego took him down next race, another barn burner, for Horse Of Year, truly a great horse cuz Wajima was for real.....

22 Jun 2009 11:50 PM

 Forego's career past performances:

22 Jun 2009 11:57 PM

Yeah Wajima was terrific, and possibly the handsomest horse I ever saw up close. Forego had to survive a foul claim as well in that '75 Woodward. He did cross in front of Baeza in the final 1/16 but he was pretty much clear by then.

23 Jun 2009 12:08 AM

2 time valley player:  My sentiments exactly. The Great Doctor was the best there ever was in my book. Only Man O' War can be in the same discussion. I have spent 50 years at various racetracks and the real horsemen who know this sport all have told me the same, no horse had the brillance, endurance, class or just flat out ability as the Doc. Read Steves Haskin's book, and also go back and read the 1970 Readers Digest article on the Doc.

To Clemente......Aaron........Koufax: The great Sandy Koufax was the best pitcher of all time, bar none. What do I know, I am just a California boy who misses the old days like so many others.

Thanks again for the article on Forego Steve, as usual you captured my heart and stirred my memory.

23 Jun 2009 12:23 AM

Skyfire:  Ruffian was grace, beauty, power and elegance all in one. If her trainer (Whitely) said she was the best he ever trained, and Lucian Lauren who trained Secretariat said she was the best he ever saw, then I would not disagree. Like all of our equine heroes this sport is about what horse touched us the most, and how we were moved. I always try to be objective. I do know that Citation and Secretariat and I think Native Dancer never won at a 130 pounds. Kelso, Forego, Dr. Fager, Damascus, and Swaps all did and weight never seemed to matter.

By the way the Great Doctor also beat Fort Marcy in that race and he was turf champion alone that year.

23 Jun 2009 12:34 AM

Steve, 1978 was Forego's last year on the track.  In 1978 Spectacular Bid was two year old champion, John Henry was a three year old, Affirmed won the triple crown, and Seattle Slew was champion older horse. These puppies earned nine HOYs.

23 Jun 2009 1:04 AM
Mike S

Horse racing is the only sport that "handicaps" or "penalizes" its star athletes, by forcing them to carry more weight than the competition, and it's a practice that is inherently unfair. Thankfully, horses don't have to carry crazy amounts of weight anymore. Well, except for ZENYATTA in the upcoming Vanity Handicap, which I think is unfair. But that's another story.

I can remember Mary F. Jones (Bradley) making public statements about how it was just flatly unfair that her star and brilliant champion COUGAR II had to carry a lot more weight than his competition. Mrs. Jones was very vocal in her opinion that if the weights were the same for all competitors in racing's biggest and most prestigious affairs, that would be the only fair way of doing things and, therefore, COUGAR II would have won a lot more races. And he was "only" carrying 126 to 130 pounds, usually, but was still almost always carrying high-weight.

Then along came FOREGO! Can you imagine how many more races he would have won had most of his losses been conducted under weight for age conditions? He would have won just about everything! FOREGO used to carry 130 pounds and more all the time. I remember one time, after a long period of carrying 133 pounds and more, that I was actually happy and relieved that he was "only" carrying 132 pounds! That poor horse. Looking back, it was totally unfair for FOREGO to be hampered by all that weight. The champions are the best, and they should have been allowed to win, even every single time they raced, instead of being weighed down by more and more weight.

I shall never forget the amazing streak that FOREGO put on during the autumn of 1974. On 09/28/74 he won the Woodward Stakes at 12 furlongs. He was then wheeled back 3 weeks later, on 10/19/74, in the Vosburgh Stakes at 7 furlongs, and won by 3-1/2 lengths! Then he came back on 11/09/74 and won the 2 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup! Unreal! Unbelievable!

Not only do they not make them like that anymore, they only made one like him to begin with!

23 Jun 2009 1:50 AM
Hialeah Ray

I fortunately was able to follow Forego throughout his career. Just as everyone celebrated Secretariat's feats, along came another great champion...Forego.

He might be one of the last great weight carriers.

23 Jun 2009 6:39 AM

i agree with all of the tributes that have been paid to forego. in my mind, he was one of the top three thoroughbreds of all time.

i know that there isn't one now, but i would like to know if there was another horse out there in the history of horse racing who had his versatility. he did it all against the best in spite of his infirmities. the distance didn't stop him, nor did the weight or track conditions.

i had the great opportunity to see him win the widener at hialeah in 1974 and i visited him at the kentucky horse park also. those are really great memories for me.

23 Jun 2009 7:33 AM
John T.

 I can remember what a good horse

Wajima was.He won the the 1975 Travers with Braulio Baeza up and was at the peak of his career when he ran in the Woodward of the same year and finished second to Forego

receiving 7 pounds.It was races like that one that makes Forego one of the greatest weight carrying performers of all time and he most deflinitely is on my top ten list.Thanks for such a well written article about him.

23 Jun 2009 7:42 AM

Perhaps the real conclusion from this article on a remarkable horse is that Forego was from the same class as Secretariat; so if Forego was that sensational, as indeed he was, Secretariat was at an almost unbelievable level, and we will not likely see his kind for generations to come.

23 Jun 2009 7:44 AM

Thank you once again for bringing me closer to horses that I missed out on knowing when I was younger.  Your words bring those horses to life and give me glimpses into the past, making me appreciate them even more than just reading about their accomplishments in the top 100s books, etc.  Forego's races on you tube are fine to watch, but to be able to learn the back story with your words is the icing on the cake.  Thank you.  

23 Jun 2009 8:02 AM

Thank you for remembering Forego, the greatest horse I've ever seen run. I still have the racing form and program from the Marlboro Cup win over Honest Pleasure in 1976.

23 Jun 2009 10:11 AM


You'll never be long-winded for me.

Your stories are what racing needs so we don't get too caught up with the present and not save enough credit for the past.

23 Jun 2009 10:20 AM

Just want to say that this blog, in particular, seems to bring out such quality in those posting.  There is so much negativity in sports blogs; people ("fans" ??) are often rude, insulting and ignorant.  We horse fans are a class act if I say so myself!  I enjoy reading these blogs -- especially in response to Steve Haskins' work. Seems like everyone has such nice things to share with eachother and the knowledge and passionate loyalty to the sport of horseracing -- or just the love of horses -- is truly a wonderful thing.  Keep up all the good work!  

p.s. just came back from the KY Horse Park:  the memorial to John Henry is fantastic.  Maybe Forego will receive some additional tribute. His grave site sits peacefully amid those of others who have gone before him, but it's somewhat humble. Surely a horse of his magnitude should merit a bit more. Alysheba doesn't have a head stone yet but rests opposite John Henry.  The KY Horse Park is always a fabulous place to visit; if you have not been there recently, stop by to visit the Hall of Champions where you can pay tribute to Forego and the boys as well as seeing Cigar, Funny Cide and two more terrific geldings, DaHoss and Java Gold... they occupy John Henry's old paddock and are like two peas in a pod; they rarely leave each other's side.  What a treat!  Thanks again to all you classy bloggers!

23 Jun 2009 10:52 AM

steve, didnt the late dan williams "rub" forego?  also wasnt dan the groom of mr. whitelys two other big horses  damascus & ruffian?

23 Jun 2009 10:58 AM

you are truly gifted. Thanks for bringing back those memories. Remember when he was retired across the street from Keeneland, they would place the racetrack camera on him from across the street, the caption would read "Forego welcomes you to Keeneland"? I was honored to be around Forego at Monmouth Park. My Dad and Tony Basil shared a barn and Forego was stalled in our barn when he came for a stake. I witnessed the making of "Lake Whiteley". I will never forget, a small animal vet was standing there and for some reason thought it would be ok to feel Forego's ankle. I thought Mr. Whiteley was going to throw him in the manure bin. Even then, when looking at Forego with those nasty ankles, you knew you were in the presence of racing loyalty.

23 Jun 2009 11:03 AM
Saratoga AJ

Geart tribute article. Forego was certainly one of my all time favorites. Second best Gelding of my lifetime...second only to the mighty Kelso. Combined, Kelso and Forego ran 120 races...and carried 128 or more pounds in exactly half of those starts. The majority of which were 130-138lbs. They just don't make them like Kelso and Forego anymore.

23 Jun 2009 12:42 PM

You did it again, Steve!  Here I sit with tears streaming down my face.  I felt like I was there by that fence clapping with you. We'll never tire of your stories - more please.

23 Jun 2009 1:13 PM
Jo Sherman

I watched Forego race--what an amazing horse. Then I met him in his retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park, and he LIKED me!  I was awed that this huge champion wanted me to pet him.  I miss him.

23 Jun 2009 1:36 PM
Janesville Liz

Oh yes, Wajima!! What a wonderful horse. Many people forget him nowadays, but he was a brilliant horse. He was a tiger in his battles with Forego. He was the last of the Bold Rulers, and one that took time to develop. I adored him when he was racing.

23 Jun 2009 1:42 PM
Paul Stone


Thanks so much for your tribute to

the "Big Guy"! I was at Belmont for several of his races  and I've never seen a horse as big as Forego. He was truly magnificent!

As for that Woodward of 1977, I'll never forget the roar that went up when Chick made his famous call. Someone earlier wrote that he was offended by the call, but those of us who were there understood that our "Champ" was back. As you wrote in this article, many people wanted him retired after the fiasco at Saratoga won by Nearly On Time. However, Forego again showed us what a truly great horse he was when he galloped through the slop that day. We all loved Big Red, Slew, Ruffian, Affirmed and Alydar but the Great and Mighty Forego was the first among all those great champs!

23 Jun 2009 2:30 PM

I remember Steve DiMauro bringing Wajima to Bowie for a minor stake race during the nascent stage of his stellar career.  There had been a lot of buzz surrounding this horse since he was by Bold Ruler and in this case it wasn't unfounded.  He was simply spectacular that day and most days thereafter.  The fact that Forego could spot him considerable weight and beat him speaks volumes about how great the mighty Forego was.  They don't call the 70's the Decade of Champions for nothing.

23 Jun 2009 2:58 PM


Once again your words have moved me and there have been some wonderful posts as well.  We are all truly horse lovers.

I didn't get to see Forego run except on TV but I did visit him and John Henry at the Horse Park.

I don't know if I'm a little strange or not but when each big horse passes on I always grieve for them.  The death of Secretariat was very hard on me since I had visited him the year before and came back 2 weeks after he was gone.  Forego was hard as well and John Henry.  He was rallying just before he died, walking around the Horse Park and always ending up before an audience!  How John loved a crowd!

It was also very hard when Alysheba died  He had just come back home.  I saw him race a few times and saw his last race, the BC classic in 1988.  I also visited him in 1989 at Lane's End.

I have cried for many, Spectacular Bid, Easy Goer who went too soon, Sunday Silence and many others.  I guess because I loved them all so much and their heroics on the track are unforgettable.  Thanks so much for bringing Forego "back to life" in your column.

23 Jun 2009 3:15 PM
Mike Relva


Here's something for you to consider. You speak about "fragile" horses. What about the fact of many that were leading contenders that had to be pulled out of the Derby? And others' that couldn't run after due to issues.I would say they aren't made like they once were. That's my conclusion!

23 Jun 2009 6:25 PM
sweet terchi

Steve, really. IMO You could never be long winded. I enjoy reading your pieces. More, please!!

23 Jun 2009 6:25 PM

Great article about a great horse. I've always held forego among the elite. I never saw him run live only on TV. The year after he was retired he toured the US going to many race tracks.  I saw him at Delaware Park and still have the hat that was presented to each patron. Another item that Forego overcame early on was his jockey and trainer. Had Shoe and Whiteley rode and trained in the beginning he might have been even more sound and unbelieveable.

23 Jun 2009 6:27 PM
Steve Haskin

I believe it was Dan Williams who rubbed Forego.

Remember one other thing about Wajima. When he sold as a yearling in 1973 he was the highest-priced yearling of all time, bringing $600,000. He was a magnificent-looking horse. The good news about Wajima is that he lived until age 29.

23 Jun 2009 7:16 PM

My grandmother and I used to make a yearly pilgrimage to the Kentucky Horse Park just so she could pay respects to "her" horse, Forego. I have a photo of her, a tiny, 92 year old lady sitting in a wheelchair, digging through her enormous carryall, trying to find the box of sugar cubes she had brought for the horse.  Right with her, looming like a skyscraper, is Forego - his head also in her carryall, seeking that sugar.  His head was almost the same size as her whole body!  His handler, Kathy, and I had no worry about Forego's behavior with her.  He was always the perfect gentleman, even offering to help find the treats. After witnessing so may of his "thundering stretch drives," through the years, it was always a privilege to see him. (John Henry was another story - we would not let that little barracuda near my grandmother.  It was enough to see him from a safe distance!)

23 Jun 2009 7:24 PM

Revisiting this blog to read more comments I find I must agree with South Filly regarding all the people who've commented - thank you.  Through everyone's comments I keep learning more about missing out on such a wonderful horse as Forego when you all have shared your memories along with Steve's.  

Monica V, you are not alone in grieving for the ones who passed on.  It was so hard to lose John Henry for me because I followed him on one of his walks in 2007 and he actually let me pet him.  It was such a thrill for me and I treasure the picture of that moment that my daughter took.  I never made it to the Horse Park to meet Forego and I was looking forward to meeting Alysheba this summer, but now he is gone and I don't get to make my trip after all.

merlinmary - what a delightful picture you have painted of your grandmother with Forego - you brought more tears to my eyes.  I hope that my granddaughter will take me to the Horsepark when I'm that old.

Thank you all for sharing your love of the horse.

23 Jun 2009 8:17 PM

Deacon, I would like to know who your top ten are.

Steve, I would like to know yours, too!

Handicaps really demonstrate greatness in my opinion.  It shows who is really great v. good.  Winning while giving weight demonstrates superior talent.  Forego demonstrated superiority for years.

23 Jun 2009 9:21 PM

Skyfire:  My top ten of all time are

1. Man O' War

2. Dr. Fager

3. Spectacular Bid

4. Damascus

5. Count Fleet and Secretariat

7. Swaps

8. Seattle Slew

9. Citatation

10. Native Dancer

Buckpasser, Kelso, Forego, Majestic Prince, Ghostzapper, Holy Bull, Graustark, Forli. and Affirmed receive homorable mention.

I am sure I will get arguments on this but in 50 years I have seen most of these run. My dad saw Man O' War and Citation. He passed away last year at age 93. His favorite all time great was Swaps. He and I would debate this but I knew he so loved that horse. I have asked Steve many times to write an article about Ellsworth and Tenney whp owned and trained Swaps. I try to be fair, I look at the weight a horse carries, the different tracks and racing surfaces they run on and the times of the race. I think Ruffian was the best filly or mare I ever saw run and she easily break the top all time 10 list. Lady's Secret and perhaps Susan's Girl were right behind Ruffian but that is debatable. Everyone has their favorites. Secretariat came along  when America was starved for a Triple Crown winner and racing on TV was becoming prominent. His races were no more impressive then Kelso's or Forego. If one can at this objectively Secretariat ran a breath taking Belont Stakes and a brilliant Marlboro Cup, but he was beaten several times by slightly above average horses. Dr. Fager was only beaten by 3 horses in his lifetime. The great Damascus, (he needed a rabbit in Hedevar to accomplish though) Buckpasser, and the 1967 2 year old of the year Successor. I think because he did not run in the Triple Crown races the public and the sports writers have unfairly judged him. Let's face it, all of America is in love with thr Triple Crown. Back in those days there was no Breeders Cup. I highly recommend Mr. Haskin's book on the Great Doctor. He could carry weight, run any surface including grass and win at any distance. I am not 100% sure but I think he won carrying 139 pounds in one of his last races.

Man O' War was just simply amazing. I have seen many photos and videos of him. This is just one man's opinion, what do I know. I do know that I love this sport and I am saddened to see the state of affairs it is in right now. I have my memories and my hopes of a better future and that right now is enough.

24 Jun 2009 3:16 AM

Thanks for a great piece of journalim!  I still remember being home from the University of Fla and going to Hialeah with my father and having the honor to watch Forego break his maiden!(with John Rotz I believe or it might have been Pete Andersen) I was so impressed!  And I'm glad to have grown up thru an era with such Great trainers like Frank Wheatly, Lou Rondinello, Eddie Neloy, Sherril Ward, Woody Stephens, Syl Veitch, Jon Nerud, and Allen Jerkins....and such great riders like Johnny Rotz, Manuel Ycaza, Braulio Baeza, Pete Andersen, Laffit Pincay,Chris McCarron and Willie Shoemaker...and as mentioned by others- such outstanding stars as Buckpasser, Dr. Farger, Damascus, Spectacular Bid, Mr. Prospector, John Henry and the Great Forego.

24 Jun 2009 5:35 AM

Mr. Haskin,

In reading you beautiful article, I was torn between utter admiration for a great racehorse and indignation at the persistence of his connections to keep running an unsound horse.

Does anybody else feel that way? Or am I the only one battling with the inherent contradiction of being an animal lover AND a horseracing fan?

24 Jun 2009 1:55 PM
Mike S

I love top 10 lists, and I liked your top 10 list (Deacon). Here's mine:











Yes, I know BUCKPASSER, NATIVE DANCER, KELSO, COUNT FLEET, etc., belong on the list. Maybe they're all tied for 10th.

Now here's my Top 10 horses on the turf. I'm only including American raced horses that ran primarily on turf. I'll leave out SECRETARIAT and DR. FAGER because they only ran on turf twice and once, respectively.

Turf Honor Roll:











Did I miss anyone?

24 Jun 2009 3:03 PM

Merlinmerry, what a lovely story about your grandmother!  I just loved it.  Isn't it funny how very different horses are?  I never got to see Forego but, man, I sure wish I had.  Did get to pet John Henry in his stall once and the beautiful Cigar too. Had planned a trip to see Alysheba - so sad to miss him. They are all truly God's most magnificent creation.  I don't think I could narrow my list down anywhere close to 10.

24 Jun 2009 5:54 PM

Mike S:  Great list, here are a few more Kelso, Lure, Dahlia and although these 3 are European they need to be mentioned. that would be Nijinsky, Sea Bird, Mill Reef, and perhaps Dubai Millenium.

Through in Ally France, and All Along and Sir Ivor. This could go on awhile.

Hard to argue with regular top 10 list. It's all opinion anyway. Maybe there will be match races in heaven and we can watch someday.

24 Jun 2009 7:08 PM
Mike S

Hi Deacon...I tried to only include American raced horses on my list, and by the time I got to #3 I was listing MIESQUE! I can't even keep my list right. AT htat point I should have listed ALL ALONG. I agree about NIJINSKY II, SEA BIRD, MILL REEF, ALLEZ FRANCE, SIR IVOR and DAHLIA all being great, but if I'm going to include all those Europeans I have to go to BRIGADIER GERARD and ALLEGED and all sorts of others, and then I'll have to include the Australians, like SUNLINE.

Oh boy.

24 Jun 2009 8:11 PM

Deacon and Mike S, I love your lists!

Deacon and Mike S: I love your lists!!

Deacon: it seems apparent that we are not breeding a better horse today - I agree with you - only Ghostzapper rates mention (and no Cigar, I note)  

I read Mr. Haskin book on Dr. Fager and he must have been something!  Damascus over Secretariat and Affirmed?  I might be with Mike S there.

24 Jun 2009 9:10 PM

Deacon, it seems like Ruffian was the female version of Dr. Fager - how do you feel about RA v Zenyatta?

24 Jun 2009 9:21 PM

Mike S, I see your point, this could go on for awhile.

24 Jun 2009 9:23 PM
Mike S

We started going to the races when I was about 9 years old. I was totally bananas about COUGAR II, then absolutely wacky about FOREGO, then nuts about AFFIRMED and SPECTACULAR BID. Then I went bonkers over JOHN HENRY. Of course I loved SECRETARIAT and RUFFIAN as well. I just love the races, I love the horses, and I really do wish that racing had more people who really love the animals. I've had so many favorite horses over the years and I think I've cried every time one of them has died. Now that's a fan!

24 Jun 2009 10:13 PM
Matthew W

LOVE those top ten lists---my input: for grass runners, the true classic distance is 1 1/2 mi....have another list for "milers'...and for dirt it's 1 1/4 argument against Dr Fager is if a sprinter (rabbit) could "cause" him to lose at 1 1/4, then he cannot be up there with Bid/Man O War/Secretariat/Citation/Swaps/Affirmed.....the greats had a stalking gear/could not be beaten by a rabbit....If you put the twelve best horses of all-time in the starting gate at Churchill--Spectacular Bid would likely be the favorite.....and no question Sunline was one of the all-time greats...

24 Jun 2009 10:22 PM
Matthew W

Steve I remember, before a big race, either The Woodward or J C Gold Cup, both Forego AND Kelso were paraded, I think Kelso was around thirty, and I thought he looked real good...but he died the very next day! Does that ring a bell or am I a tad off...??..

24 Jun 2009 10:26 PM
Joe Lee

Steve, great article. I was and still am a huge FOREGO fan. I saw him run many times as a teen. Always at the NY tracks,Mon. AC with my father and brother. I am surprised there was no mention of the day Arbees Boy beat Forego, i think he paid $122.00. DId Forego run 2nd? I remember standing at the rail and could not believe it! Funny Cide brought me back to the game after being very casual for many years.( i quit golf) When I came back the biggest disappointment to me was the Handicaps no longer carry weight like then! The great geldings are unsung compared to the 3 year old champs. But a great gelding can captivate the nation. I hope Mine That Bird can be one!

24 Jun 2009 11:11 PM
Matthew W

1) Bid

2) Secretariat

3) Man O War

4) Citation

5) Swaps

6) Affirmed

7) Smarty Jones

8) Count Fleet

9) Native Dancer

10)Sunday Silence

25 Jun 2009 12:46 AM
Matthew W

Mike S I concur! For years I wanted to make the trek back East to see 'Bid one last time--up close, like I did before the Strub in 1980, I walked up the path to where I saw Bud Delp in his plaid pants and Bid with his skinny steel grey legs....he was the greatest running machine I ever saw, and I cried the day he died, like I did that windy Feb day when I saw him from the Clockers Corner go by twice in the Strub.....

25 Jun 2009 1:05 AM

Matthew W: Please do your homework, Dr. Fager carried 132 lbs in the Suburban at 1 1/4 and beat Damascus, In Reality and Bold Hour. He carried 135 lbs and was beaten by Damascus in the Brooklyn. Frank Whitely put the brillianr sprinter Hedevar in the race to speed duel the Doctor. He won at 1 3/16 on the turf carrying 134 lbs giving Fort Marcy 16 lbs. His last race in the Vosburgh, he ran a 120 1/5 at 7 furlongs carrying 139 lbs. He set the World Record at a mile 132 1/5 carrying again 134 lbs. If this isn't versatile I don't know what is. He won at every distance. How many equine heroes can say they won anywhere from 6 or 7 furlongs to 1 1/4 mile. Setting near track and world records. I am a west coast guy, and I was just awe struck when I saw the Doctor win the 1968 Californian. I agree about Spectacular Bid, he was a awesome race horse. He and the Doc would probably take turns beating each other. In my mind these are the 2 best horses of the past 50 years.

SKYFIRE: Right now I favor Zenyatta, she is reigning queen and it now looks like Jess Jackson is not going to bring RA out west to contest the Ladies Classic due to the synthetic surface. Both however are brilliant race horses. I thought Rags to Riches was a little better then RA.

25 Jun 2009 3:18 AM

Hey MonicaV & txhorsefan.....  You are blessed to have a place in your hearts for these horses.  You are not the only ones who shed tears when we lose them.  With so much anger, misery and negativity in the world, it is good to be able to embrace these kinder and gentler feelings.  This demonstrates a great capacity to love and express emotion -- something the general population seems to be lacking.

My mom knew how much I loved Secretariat and the morning that the news of his death was broadcast, she called me before I left for work -- she knew I listened to the radio on the drive in and she said she "wanted to break the news to me first" before I heard it on the radio. She feared I may react in shock while driving.....  

And did the whole world get drawn into the sad saga of Barbaro?  As much as the general outpouring of compassion and sorrow was appreciated.... didn't you feel as if these  'outsiders' somehow intruded into your inner circle?  It's like; we're the passionate horse fans -- this is our loss; you can't possibly understand our grief...  I sort of felt that way.  Anyway,  I digress...   this blog was about Forego and, as if reading these posts wasn't substantial enough, I went home last night and skimmed thru his Thoroughbred Legends volume and looked at my HorsePark photos from my visit in spring 1996, only about a year before his death.  He was then, and still is now,  larger than life.

25 Jun 2009 8:50 AM
Steve Haskin

Zookeeper, many unsound horses race an entire career with the right handling. Two examples are Spectacular Bid, who had sesamoid problems, and Easy Goer, who had horrible ankles that needed constant care. If every unsound horse never raced, we'd have very few horses. Forego received the best care possible  from two trainers known for their patience, and never went into a race in which Mrs. Gerry felt he was in jeopardy.

Matthew, that was the JC Gold Cup, and yes, Kelso, sadly died the next day. There was a lot of debate whether they should have brought Kelso to Belmont at his age, but at least the last thing he experienced was the racetrack and paddock and all the cheers he was so used to years before.

Joe lee, I was there when Arbee's Boy beat Forego in the Met. Ironically, that was the Met Forego was prepping for in the '74 Carter. Arbees Boy turned out to be a tough little horse who gave Forego fits in future races.

25 Jun 2009 10:09 AM
Matthew W

Deacon nine of my top ten are Kentucky Derby winners---Dr Fager is probably the best of all time if you put him in a match race, but I just feel at 1 1/4 miles on dirt, Dr Fager was reliant on the pace factors MUCH MORE than any of my top ten! Not a one of my top ten could be beaten because of a rabbit because they could adjust to the pace scenarios of the particular race, and at 1 1/4 mi Dr Fager was compromised by other speed! Also, I have a lot of respect for horses that GET to the Derby, horses that RACE in the Derby--I really care not if a horse can get 1 1/2 miles on dirt but in a twelve horse field of the all-time best horses, at 1 1/4 mi on dirt, I believe every one of my top ten horses would have a better chance of winning the race than would Dr Fager, of corse I preface my opinions as to the distance being 1 1/4 miles on dirt, a furlong less and Dr Fager is right there at the top.....

25 Jun 2009 11:36 AM
Matthew W

Steve another example of an unsound GREAT horse was Swaps, easily the best horse of the 50's and 5th on my top ten of all-time horses....he had cronic hoove problems....

25 Jun 2009 11:40 AM
Mike S

Newsflash: I am changing my top 10 turf horses list, tossing MIESQUE off because she wasn't an American runner, and now I'm vaulting COUGAR II to #3 on the list, a nose ahead of MANILA.

Over and out, that is all.  

25 Jun 2009 1:36 PM

I am really behind. I was thinking Forego was a TC winner *hides*

I'm 20 y/o. I've gotten Monarchos, Curlin, War Emblem, Rags to Riches, Mine That Bird--Curlin was the first sign of a possible change. Let's hope it starts.

I got hooked on horses--and I started watching racing--when my aunt put me on her OTTB mare and told me she traced back to Native Dancer. I was enthralled--until, years later, I learned 75% of TB's trace back to Native.

Back to Forego, if he had such range, such staying power, and stayed so long, like Kelso...then yeah. Secretariat is slightly overrated.

1. Man O'War (he was the first 'superhorse'

2. Kelso

3. Forego

4. Secretariat

25 Jun 2009 1:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Swaps certainly was one of the great horses of his era, but you'd probably find a few Native Dancer fans who disagree he was "easily the best horse of the 50s."

Nashua has his boosters as well, as do Round Table, Tom Fool, and Bold Ruler.

What many people dont realize is that Swaps had a hole in his hoof the size of a quarter when he ran in the match race vs. Nashua. You can see how he kept lugging out after the start that he was hurting.

He was such a magnificent horse to look at and watch in action. Catch the movie "Glory" and you'll see film clips of him winning the Ky. Derby. Swaps actually is supposed to be Glory in the Derby, as she's wearing the Ellsworth colors in the movie.

25 Jun 2009 2:18 PM

Thanks Steve for that short piece  about Swaps. He was a magnificant animal, next to Majestis Prince he was one of the all great lookers.

25 Jun 2009 3:00 PM

Great article;  I had the privilege of seeing Forego race, (in person) 24 times.  I particularly remember the 1977 Woodward;  I had just collected a very large exacta (dead heat for the win and I had a $2 box) the previous race.  For the only time in my life I went to the $10 window (yes there was a seperate window for such a wager) and put $10 WPS.  What a thrill when he won... as I recall I collected $75.

25 Jun 2009 3:16 PM

Deacon, you are right about Majestic Prince - there was a color picture of him in Sports Illustrated that I fell in love with as a kid; my Dad took me to the Belmont, sadly he wasn't right in the race.

25 Jun 2009 9:57 PM

Matthew W: We can agree to disagree, just because a horse does not win the Derby or Preakness or Belmont Stakes should not penalize his greatness. Man O' War did not win the Derby and he is considered one of the all time greats. Dr. Fager did not run in any of the Triple Crown races so he is exempt from penalty in my mind. He did more then enough to warrant "one of the all time great" tags. Greatness is not measured by only 1, 2 or 3 races. I have no other issues with your list. Your measure of greatness is just different then the historians and those in the know and those who were in the trenches. Now we can say any horse that won the Derby should be considered an all time great, if that is your measuring stick. I look at weight, times, power, speed, and class. Dr. Fager came from 4th position to win the 1968 Califorian. He ran off the pace against Fort Marcy, Advocator and Tobin Bronze in his only grass race. He carried over 130 lbs in every race he ran (8) at age 4. This isn't even an argument, but keep believibg in this once great sport and maybe we can get the glory back..........

25 Jun 2009 10:10 PM
Steve Haskin

Skyfire, I fell in love with the same shot, assuming it is the photo you're referring to. It's a head-on of him winning the SA Derby and the sun is illuminating his mane and chin whiskers. It's a beautiful shot. You can look's at the photo on the page at SI's new online archive. Just type in Majestic Prince's name.

I will be doing a blog in the near future about the 1969 Triple Crown.

26 Jun 2009 9:45 AM
Soldier Course

Wanted to mention the new "Adam's Turf: Your Summer Task ..." blog posted on the Blog Stable a couple of days ago. Adam's asking us to post our reviews of the various horse racing movies and documentaries he's listed. Should be fun.

26 Jun 2009 10:53 AM
Saratoga AJ

Mathew W:

"another example of an unsound GREAT horse was Swaps, easily the best horse of the 50's and 5th on my top ten of all-time horses....he had cronic hoove problems...."

Swaps when he was right was a incredibly fast horse...certainly one of the best. But to say he was better than Native Dancer is ridiculous.

And when it comes to the 50's, Tom Fool, Nashua (who beat Swaps by 5 in the famous Match Race after losing the Derby to him), Bold Ruler, Round Table and Sword Dancer weren't too shabby either.

26 Jun 2009 10:58 AM

Steve : You are so right on about the "Prince" just an amazingly gorgeous animal. Can't wait for the article. Longden did not want to run him in the Belmont, he knew he wasn't right.  Frank McMahon over ruled him and the rest is history. He could have and should have been one of the all time greats. For those who do not remember, Majestic Prince was undefeated I believe going into the Belmont.....

26 Jun 2009 11:18 AM

There is a sweet photo used of Forego in this weeks THS video. Not to mention Miss Musket.

26 Jun 2009 11:47 AM

I was in the crowd for that Whitney - it was only my second time at the track (the first was Secretariat at Woodbine). I was quite confused by all the hubbub but thrilled when I saw the giant Forego in the walking ring. I was a little bewildered at his poor performance, not knowing the backstory. But I remembered Saratoga's reputation as the Graveyard of Champions so told everyone to watch out for him in the fall. Boy did he prove me right in the Woodward. What a champion!

26 Jun 2009 12:51 PM

Steve, you are the best!! That was it, that beautiful, elegant horse - I have the mag stored somewhere but haven't looked at it in awhile!!  That image has stayed with me - gorgeous horse - so well named!! I wish all owners gave their horse a name so dignified and regal.  Did you see him in the Derby?

What a treat, thanks so much for the archive tip- I am going to reread and go through all those great old articles online!!  They had great coverage of horse racing.

26 Jun 2009 8:02 PM
Matthew W

Steve if Majestic Prince never ran a race, would Arts And Letters three year old season rival Citations? I believe he won everything in sight that year! And Drone is a Derby winner most years!...Great crop!

26 Jun 2009 10:30 PM
Matthew W

Saratoga A J I did have Native Dancer in my top ten, and I agree about Tom Fool being real good---Swaps was brilliant, one of the all-time specimens of racing! Some of his races you just think he's unbeatable!

26 Jun 2009 10:33 PM
Saratoga AJ

Mathew W.

Top tens are subjective of course, and ranking the top 10 horses of all time is a tough, almost impossible task. There were so many greats that we did not see. Some are forgotten on most of our lists because they ran before our time...and we tend to pick more of the ones in our lifetime. A good example is the only other undefeated champion other than Personal Ensign, the great Colin. Yet he rarely is mentioned in anyone's top 10 list, mainly because he ran in 1907-8.(He did make #15 in the Bloodhorse's Top 100)

It appears your list is limited to colts. Because to not have say, Kelso and Forego in anyone's list is a real stretch, as is including Sunday Silence. If he is #10, would Easy Goer be 10b? :)

27 Jun 2009 8:11 AM
Will W

If Steve keeps producing these articles about the great handicap horses of the 1960s and 1970s - all of whom I had the privilege to see run - maybe he'll shame the current generation of breeders into producing such horses again. You'll pardon me though if I don't hold my breath waiting for the response. Still, Steve, does thoroughbred racing a real service in holding up to public view the memory of what truly constitutes a great handicap horse. His constant reminders of these versatile, durable champions who routinely carried weights no horse today would ever be permitted to carry  brings to the racing world's attention how steep and precipitous the decline has been from true thoroughbred handicap greatness since breeding solely for speed and the use of racing medications like lasix and bute has been allowed to dominate the sport. A horse that could beat the best sprinters at 7 furlongs, win against the elite older horses at the classic distances of 1 1/8, 1 1/4, and then win the Jockey Gold Cup when it was a two mile distance affair - all at great weights no contemporary horse ever carries and all on bad legs and ankles - that defines the true greatness that was Forego. It would have been exciting if Jess Jackson who sees clearly the follies of the industry today had tried to recover the greatness of a Forego, a Kelso, or a Dr. Fager by running a drug-free Curlin for another three years to prove an all-time leading money winner's greatness by demonstrating his horse's versatility and durability at high weights in an era of highly-inflated purses. That too though is but a forlorn, midsummer's night dream of a recovery of thoroughbred racing's heyday of truly great handicap race horses on the part of one who saw them all and longs for what can never again be. Nevertheless, a thoroughly enjoyable article, Steve, that jogs the memory and keeps a glorious by-gone era of handicap horse greatness before the eyes of the racing public.

27 Jun 2009 9:32 PM
Matthew W

Saratoga A J I actually thought and still do Easy Goer was better than Sunday---but results are results--they prepped Easy in 1 1/2 mi dirt race for the Cup and he lost his edge and it cost him--but, yeah, any time you list a top-anything list there's gonna be debate--at 1 1/4 on dirt, and that is my template, colts are dominant over fillies, but the fastest horse I ever saw was Crimson Saint, a filly, and my 1 1/2 turf list would for sure have some fillies---Allez France, All Along, Dahlia....they fit with Ribot, Sea Bird, John Henry...

28 Jun 2009 12:04 PM
Steve Haskin

Matthew, Early in the year, Top Knight was the big classic horse, defeating A&L in the Flamino and Florida Derby, but he had phyiscal problems and was never the same horse. I'm glad you  mentioned Drone. What a monster he could have been. And what a massive individual.

28 Jun 2009 6:48 PM

Wonderful article, thank you for awakening the memories.  I was a kid, but I remember being at Belmont many, many times to see the great Forego.  Anyway I wanted to throw in my two-cents on the top-10 lists.  I am only including horses of the last 4 decades (horses that I saw run).

1 Secretariat

2 Spectacular Bid

3 Seattle Slew

4 Forego

5 Affirmed

6 Rachel Alexandra (Yes, I think she is that good)

7 Ruffian

8 Alydar

9 Sunday Silence

10 Easy Goer

10 Jul 2009 9:58 AM

A very good list!! I had to do the math on why no Dr. Fager!!

13 Jul 2009 9:16 PM

My father first took me to belmont when i was 5 years old and since then i have always loved the horses. I must say that this article about forego was great i wish they would acknowledge him more. I was at the marlboro cup when he ran down honest pleasure and it still ranks for me as one of the greatest sports moments of all time. Forego appealed to everyone because of his fighting spirit and talent. IMO he is the best hore i ever saw and i saw secretariat, seattle slew, affirmed , spectacular bid and all the other top horses since 1972. For me forego belongs on the top of this list, his accomplishments at different distances bearing high weights is unparalelled in this era (save kelso-who i did not see). While the article was enjoyable so were the comments. I was surprised to see so many fans think spectacular bid rated so high on the all time list-I do not agree-he was great but not as accomplished as forego/secretariat/seattle slew + affirmed. You guys must have forgotten that bid was beaten by affirmed in the JCGC @ 1 1/2 miles- affirmed went wire to wire in this race and bid never got in front of him. The previous year affirmed was crushed by seattle slew twice. While bid had a great 4yr old campaign i can remember a great vacuum existed in racing at the time + his competition was suspect at best. He never raced at 5 and never spotted foes the weight that forego did. My top list since 1970.

1)Forego- a late bloomer who took on several generations of horses older and younger, spotting rivals up to 32lbs (unheard of today). Due to his being a gelding he was forced to take chances that the other greats of the 1970's did not have to take. Horseracing is sort of like boxing-the longer you compete the greater the chance of having a bad day + losing. Forego stayed around long enough to lose and proved himself by always bouncing back, winning fans and more weight in the process. The other great horses of this era did not stick arond long enough to have their mettle truly tested.

2)Seattle Slew- was not as popular as big red but arguably was more accomplished, he won the triple crown while undefeated remember? He had a huge heart but was nearly ruined when his connections ran him in the swaps shortly after the triple crown in an absurd move. He beat affirmed twice easily and should have won the JCGC that year but got cooked in a speed duel- but still came back after being passed and almost won! Remarkable.

3)Secretariat- Accomplishments at 3 were great but still threw in a few clunkers-lost to onion and a couple of other lightly regarded horses. Questions that will never be answered- how would he have run as a 4year old? how would he have done against forego who didnt become great until reaching 4, how would he have responded to carrying high weights and spotting his rivals 20lbs or more. His owners played it safe and took the money and ran- A phenomenon which has all but ruined a once great sport. Final opinion great horse but largely untested through no fault of his own of course.

4)Affirmed- great heart and had to defeat a horse who was nearly his equal to win a great triple crown. Lost to slew 2x but beat the bid in their only encounter. I will always remember him as being tough to pass once he got to the lead- all guts.

5)Spectacular Bid- lost the triple crown to coastal due to an alleged safety pin accident-was this true or did he simply have an off day? or did the distance bother him? I dont think he ever won a 1 1/2 mile race. Lost to affirmed by one in their only meeting. His 4 yr old campaign was dominant but whom did he beat? During his 4yr old year all the great horses of the era were already gone and I cant remember any of the "top names" around that year. He like his present day cohorts did not race at 5 and i dont remember him toting alot of weight. Sorry bid fans but beating a bunch of tomato cans is easy- bid failed his 2 major tests- again alot of questions left unanswered. Come to think of it i think one of his major wins at 4 came against a filly named Glorious Song?

Anyway thats my top 5 I am interested to see if anyone responds.

17 Nov 2009 10:24 AM
dr fager01


23 Jan 2010 3:26 AM
Big Joe

I don't know how others may feel, but to me Forego had to be one of the greatest Horses of all time. I have read extensively about him and saw him on many occasions, as I was a teenager when he was running. Massive, almost the size of a Clydesdale,and tall, he was a magnificent physical presence, producing awe in all who witnessed him in person. To know that his legs were so unsound that even his Veternarian Dr. James Prendergast, stated "His x-rays should be in the Hall Of Fame of racing", is quite unbelieveable. It is also kind of sad, as Forego was asked to carry weights that would handicap the soundest of horses. What a testament, that cannot be said of most Champion racehorses. I just wonder what other great feats he would have accomplished had his legs had been sound. I don't believe they would have allowed Forego to race today with his legs in that condition. He made racing exciting and brought out love and admiration to all who knew him. A truly magnificent Champion and Giant of the ages.

15 Sep 2010 11:49 PM

Steve. I was looking at some greats past performances, including Forego & others. Forego Only won in NY & Florida. He obviously ran the vast majority of his races in NY & FL. Forego ran 3 races outside of NY&FL, and he lost them all(Kee,CD,Mth). He also only ran twice at Saratoga & lost both races. Zenyatta only won in Cal & Ark, though, of course, only ran once(CD) outside of either. Easy Goer ran the vast majority of his races in NY & Florida, 17 of his 20 races were in NY or FL. He won in NY & FL only like Forego. However, Easy Goer did despise & disdain that specific type of peanut butter  mud at CD(& spun his problematic ankles & wheels on it) & finished 2nd there twice on class & talent. To me though, Easy Goer did not lose by a nose in Maryland, or a neck in FL because of where, or what state or tracks, those races were run. What's your take on these 3 horses in regards to this?

28 May 2014 2:44 AM

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