When Edith Woodward Bancroft set out to rebuild a racing stable after the dispersal of her father’s famous Belair Stud, she and her mother sought the advice of A.B. (Bull) Hancock Jr. Among the first mares he purchased on their behalf was Kerala, who would produce one of the greatest racehorses of the 20th century.
The 1967 Horse of the Year and dual Classic winner, Damascus was called by Frank Whiteley, “truly the greatest horse I’ve ever been around.” Damascus and Dr. Fager formed one of racing’s greatest rivalries, and their four meetings resulted in two wins each. In what many called the Race of the Century, sophomores Damascus and Dr. Fager and then four-year-old Buckpasser met in the Woodward Stakes, with Damascus running off to a 10-length win and Horse of the Year honors. This clash of titans occurred just weeks after the Travers, where Damascus employed his explosive turn of foot to overcome a 15-length deficit and won by 22 lengths in track record time. From coast to coast and in between, he dominated opponents and smashed records while carrying increasingly staggering weights. It took a career-ending injury to cause his only out of the money finish.
Retired to stud duty at Claiborne, his syndication price of $2,560,000 was a hefty return on his dam’s $9,600 yearling purchase price. He sired three champions among his 70 stakes winners; and his influence was furthered by his sons, who include Private Account, the sire of Personal Ensign, and his daughters who produced more than 160 stakes winners.
Buried in the Marchmont cemetery at Claiborne Farm.