Damascus (horse)

Damascus (April 14, 1964 – August 8, 1995) was a Thoroughbred race horse sired by Sword Dancer (1959's Horse of the Year) out of Kerala (by My Babu) foaled at the Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1967, he won the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes*, Jockey Club Gold Cup*, Wood Memorial, Travers Stakes, Dwyer Stakes (closing from 12 lengths back and spotting the runner up 16 pounds), and Woodward Stakes and was named Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old colt, plus he shared the champion handicap male honors with Buckpasser.[1][2] Also in 1967, Damascus finished third in the 1967 Kentucky Derby. A high-strung horse, he was enervated by the humidity and spooked by the crowd noise, so he was thereafter given a stable pony to calm him. During the same year, top horses Dr. Fager and Buckpasser were also competing. In Blood-Horse magazine's top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Buckpasser ranks 14th and Dr. Fager ranks 6th. In a race many consider the "Race of the Century," Damascus won the 1967 Woodward by 10 lengths over both of these horses after his connections, as well as those of Buckpasser, used stablemates to set a blistering pace, thus weakening Dr. Fager. Damascus himself ranks number 16 in the Blood Horse listing.

Damascus (Horse).jpg
Damascus at Claiborne Farm in 1981
SireSword Dancer
GrandsireSun Glow
DamsireMy Babu
CountryUnited States
BreederEdith W. Bancroft
OwnerEdith W. Bancroft
TrainerFrank Y. Whiteley, Jr.
Record32: 21-7-3
Major wins
Remsen Stakes (1966)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (1967)
American Derby (1967)
Aqueduct Handicap (1967, 1968)
Wood Memorial Stakes (1967)
Woodward Stakes (1967)
Dwyer Stakes (1967)
Travers Stakes (1967)
Leonard Richards Stakes (1967)
Bay Shore Stakes (1967)
Brooklyn Handicap (1968)
San Fernando Stakes (1968)
Malibu Stakes (1968)
William Dupont Jr. Handicap (1968) Triple Crown Race wins:
Preakness Stakes (1967)
Belmont Stakes (1967)
United States Champion 3-Yr-Old colt (1967)
DRF United States Champion Handicap Horse (1967)
United States Horse of the Year (1967)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1974)
#16 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Last updated on September 20, 2006


Damascus was owned and bred by Edith Woodward Bancroft, whose father, William Woodward Sr., owned Belair Stud and won five Belmonts in the 1930s. Edith Bancroft inherited the famed Belair white silks with red polka dots and scarlet cap but never used Belair as a stable name. Damascus was trained by Hall of Famer Frank Whireley Jr. and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Racing careerEdit

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

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

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

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

Stud recordEdit

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


Pedigree of Damascus
Sword Dancer

ch. 1956


ch. 1947

Sun Again Sun Teddy
Hug Again
Rosern Mad Hatter
Highland Fling

brown 1950

By Jimmy Pharamond
Swing Time Royal Minstrel
Speed Boat

bay 1958

My Babu

bay 1945

Djebel Tourbillon
Perfume Badruddin
Blade of Time

brown 1938

Sickle Phalaris
Bar Nothing Blue Larkspur
Beaming Beauty


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



  1. ^ "Damascus Chosen Horse of Year". Pittsburgh Press. 1967-11-24. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  2. ^ "Damascus Only Pick for Horse of Year". Schenectady Gazette. 1967-11-28. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  3. ^ Heckman, Lucy. Damascus. Lexington, KY: Eclipse Press, 2004.