Dr. Fager Is Key Influence in Top Forestry Progeny

(By Avalyn Hunter)

Forestry is one stallion that has been through more ups and downs than a good rollercoaster. One thing that has remained constant, however, is his apparent affinity for Fappiano, whose sire line is responsible for the dams of five of Forestry's 40 stakes winners. Those stakes winners include three of the stallion's 10 graded stakes winners: multiple grade II winner Etched, 2004 Bay Meadows Derby (gr. IIIT) winner Congressionalhonor, and recent Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Shackleford.

A closer look, however, reveals that the key element in this cross may not be Fappiano but Fappiano's maternal grandsire Dr. Fager, particularly in concert with In Reality, the best maternal grandson of Dr. Fager's sire Rough'n Tumble. Shackleford and Etched, in fact, are both out of dams inbred to In Reality, while Congressionalhonor is out of a mare by Quiet American, a horse inbred 3x2 to Dr. Fager.

Mares by Fappiano himself or those of his sons without reinforcing crosses of Dr. Fager or In Reality through their dams have not produced a single stakes winner by Forestry (though, in fairness, the numbers involved are small). It should also be noted that Forestry's results with mares by Unbridled or Unbridled's Song-fully two-thirds of his matings involving Fappiano-line mares-have been quite uneven. While Shackleford and Etched are both from this cross, they are two of only 17 winners out of 50 foals of racing age so bred (34%), a strike rate well below Forestry's overall 46% of winners from foals; both not only have extra crosses to In Reality through their dams but are out of a grade I producer and a grade I winner, respectively. Conformation is likely an issue that needs to be considered as carefully as pedigree when planning a mating between Forestry and an Unbridled-line mare.

The cross with Quiet American, on the other hand, has yielded much more consistent results, albeit out of a much smaller foal sample. Of eight foals sired by Forestry out of Quiet American mares, seven have started, five have won and two have been stakes winners. Granted, Congressionalhonor, the best runner produced from this specific cross, was also out of an exceptional mare as he is a half brother to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam.

Of course, three-quarters of Forestry's stakes winners do not have Dr. Fager in their distaff pedigrees at all, but given that the 1968 Horse of the Year is not all that common in pedigrees-Fappiano is by far the most common source-that is not too surprising. The important point here is that, while a given pedigree element may be important to a sire's success, not all conduits for that element may be created equal, and this needs to be taken into account in planning a mating.


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The Deacon

Love this article, Dr. Fager is argueably the greatest American race horse to ever look through a bridle. Watched him win the Californian at Hollywood Park in 1968, demolishing the best in the west. A horse that could carry weight, race at just about any distance and also win on the turf.

I still don't thing the Doc gets enough recognition as being one of the best but the true horsemen, and those on the back stretch know how good he was......

Thanks for sharing...........

07 Jun 2011 10:04 PM

Dr Fager is definitely one of my all time top 5 favorites. Though he came way before my time, I find it almost as thrilling watching the replays of his races. I have a thing for speedy horses and Dr Fager was just brilliant.

I love Shackleford too. He's my pick anywhere he goes, unless he's going to happen upon Jaycito. I love the speed in Shackleford's pedigree, and the speed in Shackleford himself. That was partly what endeared Shackleford to me as a fan, as well as his heart, courage, and handsome chestnut coat and blaze.  

I'm always interested in horses decided from the Doctor. Great article.

07 Jun 2011 10:30 PM


08 Jun 2011 11:18 AM
John from Seattle


I agree with you regarding Dr. Fager.  I remember that race at Hollypark where he ran past Gamely, Rising Market and others like they were standing still.

But for as for "The Best" of the West - I'm sorry, but these horses that Dr. Fager blew past were good to very good, but definitely not great.  And not legendary.

Yes, I believe Dr. Fager was the greatest and fastest ever.  That is, up to a mile.

The 'Good Doctor' was something else wasn't he.

He will always be part of perhaps American's greatest era of horseracing legends (Dr. Fager, Buckpasser and Damascus).

09 Jun 2011 7:43 PM
The Deacon

John from Seattle:

The knock on Dr. Fager was that most folks think he was just a miler. Those folks haven't done their homework. In his last race, the United Nations handicap which was on the turf, he beat the legendary turf champion Fort Marcy, and Advocator who was pretty darn good in his own right. That race was run at 1 3/16.

He won races up to 1 1/4 and carried a ridiclous 136 lbs. Only 3 horses ever finished in front of the great Doctor, Damascus, Buckpasser and Successor (champion 2 year old) at age 2.

Citation for example never won won a race carrying 130 lbs, neither did Secretariat. Dr. Fager carried 130 lbs and more pretty much every race at age 4. His world revord for a mile was 132.1 and he carried 134 lbs that day eased up. He won the Jersey Derby by over 7 lengths and was disqualified for some bogus interference on the backstetch. Argueably the most versatile American race horse ever.

Gamely, Rising Market were no slouches. Think about this, in most of Doc's races other trainers would put a "rabbit" in the race to try and run the Doc to the ground. Frank Whitely did this more then once when he ran against the great Damascus, who in my mind is one of the 10 greatest horses ever.

I do appreciate your kind words,  it is nice to see someone appreciate this incredible animal as much as I do. The Doc is an immortal in my eyes. Imagine these horses today trying to race against him.........

13 Jun 2011 2:44 AM

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