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Ogygian in retirement at Old Friends Equine in Georgetown, Kentucky
Sire Damascus
Dam Gonfalon
Grandsire Sword Dancer
Damsire Francis S.
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1983
Country United States
Color Bay
Breeder Tartan Farms
Owner Tartan Stable
Trainer Jan H. Nerud
Record 10: 7-1-1
Earnings $455,520
Ogygian is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Gonfalon by Damascus. He was born around 1983 in the United States, and was bred by Tartan Farms.
Major wins
Futurity Stakes (1985)
Dwyer Stakes (1986)
Jerome Handicap (1986)
Riva Ridge Stakes (1986)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

Ogygian (foaled March 17, 1983 in Florida) is a multiple Grade 1 stakes (G1) winning Thoroughbred race horse and important broodmare sire.


On the Track

Bred by Tartan Farms, the muscular bay Ogygian left his mark on 1980s racing as the "swift but star-crossed"[1] fastest son of Damascus. His dam, Gonfalon (by Francis S.), from the Cequillo female line, is also second dam (maternal grandmother) to millionaire Honour and Glory. Named after Ogygia, the island of the nymph Calypso in Homer's Odyssey, Ogygian was raced as a homebred by Tartan Farms. His trainer was Jan Nerud, son of John Nerud who had trained Damascus' fiercest rival, Dr. Fager. Remembered as "the nation's fastest 2-year-old of 1985,"[2] Ogygian won the 1985 Belmont Futurity Stakes (G1) but a shin injury prematurely ended his two-year-old campaign. Back in training that December, he kicked the rail, receiving the injury that he was to battle through the rest of his race career. For the first time, bone chips were removed from his right hind ankle.[3] Though the expected winter-book favorite for the 1986 Kentucky Derby,[4] he did not heal in time to embark on the Triple Crown trail.

Racing back into shape as a three year old with a second in an Aqueduct stakes, Ogygian followed with wins in an allowance race, and the Riva Ridge Stakes on Belmont day, 1986. Carrying on his reputation for speed, turn of foot, and as a game-minded strategist, he won the Dwyer (G1) in front-running style, over John's Treasure and Personal Flag, then proved his versatility in the Jerome Handicap (G1), patiently letting sprint-champion-to-be Groovy attempt an overwhelming lead, then running by him at will[5]. Though Ogygian proved his merits at distances shorter than the classic mile-and-a quarter, his pedigree suggested classic distance ability. His sire, Damascus, had won the Belmont at a mile and a half and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, then two miles. His damsire, Francis S, won at classic distance in the Dwyer while that race was still run at a mile and a quarter. Nerud trained Ogygian toward the mile-and-a-quarter Travers Stakes (G1), but scratched him from that race due to a muddy track. Some sports columnists criticized his withdrawal from the race. Few were aware until later that throughout his three year old campaign Ogygian had battled chronic trouble from his ankle injury. After a third in the Pegasus Stakes (G2), seven more chips were discovered in the colt's ankle.[2] He raced once as a four year old, for the first time in his life failing to place. Despite the exceptional heart he had shown winning memorably all summer with a bad ankle, the injury had told in the end. Ogygian was retired in early May 1987.[6] In all, Ogygian raced 10 times, with 7 wins (4 stakes wins, 3 Grade 1 wins), 1 second place (G2) and 1 third place (G2). Though two other sons of Damascus, Desert Wine and Highland Blade, earned more on the track, neither exceeded Ogygian's three Grade 1 wins, or the distinction of earning them in only ten races.

At Stud

Retired in 1987, Ogygian stood at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky until 1995, where he sired some two dozen stakes winners, including Denim Yenem, D'hallevant, Dice Dancer, Digital Dan, Flyn J Bryan and the speedy but ill-fated Ramblin Guy, among others. While at Claiborne he lost his left eye in a breeding shed accident. Though a useful sire, he never replicated his own brilliance. In 1995 Ogygian went to East Stud in Japan, where he enjoyed success. His son Eishin Washington (out of a daughter of Sham) is a well regarded stallion in Japan.[7] In 2005 Ogygian was retired from breeding. Old Friends Equine returned him to the United States, and he resides at Dream Chase Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.[8]

As a Broodmare Sire

While Ogygian's power and speed on the track remain noteworthy two decades later, perhaps he will be best remembered as a broodmare sire. Among his daughters' foals are the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, Eclipse American Juvenile Champion and juvenile champion in Ireland, England and France, Johannesburg;[9] multiple Grade 1 winning sprinter Street Boss;[10] Grade 1 winning gelding Gygistar, who replicated Ogygian's Riva Ridge Stakes and Dwyer Stakes sequence; and multiple Grade 2 winner Friendly Island.[11] While Johannesburg, the most noted of Ogygian's descendants so far, is bred on a cross with Storm Cat (Northern Dancer sire line), more of Ogygian's stakes level progeny seem to come from crosses with Raise A Native's descendants—and Johannesburg also carries Raise A Native ancestry.

External links

  • Past Performances: Ogygian, report #5044 (brisnet.com)


  1. Steven Crist. "No Breeze for Gone West in Withers." New York Times. May 7, 1986. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/07/sports/no-breeze-for-gone-west-in-withers.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 Steven Crist. "Pine Tree Lane, Only Filly in Race, Wins in Bold Ruler." New York Times. April 12, 1987. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/12/sports/horse-racing-pine-tree-lane-only-filly-in-race-wins-in-bold-ruler.html?pagewanted=all
  3. Associated Press. "Ogygian Will Miss the Derby." New York Times. December 26, 1886. http://www.nytimes.com/1985/12/26/sports/ogygian-will-miss-derby.html
  4. "Ogygian is Out Until Next Year." New York Times. October 16, 1985. http://www.nytimes.com/1985/10/16/sports/ogygian-is-out-until-next-year.html
  5. Old Friends. DVD: Old Friends' residents' races. Old Friends, 2006.
  6. Steven Crist. "No Breeze for Gone West in Withers." New York Times. May 7, 1986. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/07/sports/no-breeze-for-gone-west-in-withers.html
  7. Eishin Washington's sire record. https://www.jbis.or.jp/jbis_hp/english/record/2006/F0000250154.pdf
  8. Old Friends http://www.oldfriendsequine.org
  9. Johannesburg's page at Ashford Stud http://www.coolmore.com/stallions/america/johannesburg/
  10. Street Boss's page at Darley http://www.darleyamerica.com/our-stallions/street-boss/Pedigree
  11. Friendly Island's New York Breeding Registry page http://www.nybreds.com/breeding/registry_pdf/friendly_island.pdf


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