Frank Whiteley, Jr.
Forego was a highly successful American thoroughbred racehorse. Foaled on April 30, 1970, the bay gelding was owned and bred by Mrs. Martha Farish Gerry's Lazy F Ranch. Over Forego's long years of racing, he had three trainers: first Sherrill W. Ward, then when he became too ill to continue, Frank Y. Whiteley, Jr. and his son David A. Whiteley. He had two main jockeys: Hall of Famer Bill Shoemaker and Heliodoro Gustines.
Two things kept him from making a splash in 1973's race for the Triple Crown. First, he was still awkward as a 3-year-old, still growing into his size. Second and more importantly, 1970 was also the year Secretariat was born. Forego was fourth behind Secretariat in a Kentucky Derby that was run in record time (1:59 2/5). Eddie Hayward, assistant trainer to Sherrill Ward, took over when Ward was ill and is officially listed as Forego's trainer in his wins in his final two races of 1973, the Roamer and Discovery Handicaps. His size and fractiousness led to his being gelded in order to race, thus setting him up for a long career. Forego's champion reign began when he was a four-year-old.
In 57 starts, he won 34, placed in 9, and came in third 7 times. His lifetime earnings amounted to $1,938,957. Forego won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Sprint Horse in 1974, and Eclipse Award for Outstanding Older Male Horse for four years running—1974, 1975, 1976, and 1977. He was voted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year for three years straight: 1974, 1975 and 1976. His countless handicap victories made this large son of Forli a handicap champion. His versatility is clearly demonstrated by his wins from 7 furlongs to the 2 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. Because of his wins, he was constantly asked to carry more than 130 pounds, and still he won usually with a heart pounding burst of speed in the home stretch when he would close like a rocket and win in a photo finish against horses carrying up to 35 pounds less weight! His dramatic style became a crowd pleaser and the horse would draw people to the track who otherwise would not have come. Once, during a strike by betting machine workers, there was no wagering. Nevertheless, Forego drew over 10,000 people on a weekday who came out just to see him run in a warm up race. Forego was truly a champion handicap horse.
His most dramatic win -- which owner Martha Farish Gerry calls the most exciting moment of her racing career -- was Forego's victory in the 1976 Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park on Long Island. After contending for the lead, Forego faded to eighth of 11 horses on the backstretch, with Honest Pleasure holding the lead most of the way. But he kept sneaking up at the quarter pole. Sportscaster Dave Johnson's call in the final furlong was one for the ages:
Honest Pleasure has the lead. On the outside, here comes Forego! Father Hogan toward the rail. It's Honest Pleasure, Forego on the outside, Forego on the outside and Honest Pleasure! Here's the finish! TOO TIGHT TO CALL!
This was how the late Chic Anderson expertly described the finish for the CBS Television audience:
"Here's Forego! He'll get up! RIGHT AT THE WIRE...why, I think he wins it by a bare nose!"
Forego was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1979.
(Records are from "Champions, The Lives and Times and Past Performances of the 20th Century's Greatest Thoroughbreds," by the writers and editors of the Daily Racing Form.)
Forego moved to the Kentucky Horse Park in 1979, the year after his last race. He lived there for the rest of his life, enjoying his life and his fans until his death in 1997.
At 27, he broke his left hind leg in a paddock accident and had to be euthanized.
In the list of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century by Blood-Horse magazine, Forego ranks 8th.