Ten Things You Should Know: Donn Handicap
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
1) The Donn Handicap is a Grade 1 race currently run at a 1 1/8-miles for horses 4-years-old and up. It is held at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
2) Along with the Santa Anita Handicap in California, the Donn Handicap is a marquee winter race for older horses in the United States.
3) The race is named for James Donn, Sr. who led the ownership group that re-opened Gulfstream Park in 1944. Donn also served as president of the track. His son and grandson followed him in that position.
4) The first Donn Handicap was run in 1959. From 1959 to 1964, the race was run at 1 1/2-miles on the turf. Since then it has been run on dirt and at the distance of 1 1/8-miles with the exception of 1976 (7-furlongs) and 1978 (1 1/16-miles).
5) In 1974, Forego won the Donn in his first start as a 4-year-old and followed that up with a win in the 1 1/4-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap less than two weeks later. Those two victories were the beginning of a stretch that would see Forego win seven Eclipse Awards including three consecutive Horse of the Year awards (1974-1976).
6) From 1991 to 1993, the Donn was the first race in the American Championship Racing Series that ended in August at Del Mar. Like many attempts to establish racing series based on a points system and bonuses, the series fizzled after three years.
7) Holy Bull, the 1994 Horse of the Year, suffered a career ending injury in the 1995 Donn, won that year by Cigar, a relative unknown at the time. Cigar won Horse of the Year in 1995 and took the Donn and Horse of the Year again in 1996.
8) Cigar is one of three horses to win the race twice. One-Eyed King, who won the first two editions on turf (1959 and 1960), and Pistols and Roses (1993 and 1994) are the other two dual winners.
9) In 1997, the 4-year-old Skip Away finished second in the Donn to Formal Gold. He closed out that year with a win in the Breedersâ€™ Cup Classic. In 1998, he won the Donn in the first start of his 5-year-old season. It was the first of seven straight graded stakes wins during a campaign that earned him Horse of the Year.
10) Invasor, the 2006 Horse of the Year, won the 2007 edition of the Donn. It was the fifth North American Grade 1 victory of his stellar career.