Grade II winner Domasca Dan died Jan. 21 after a lengthy career at stud. The son of Same Direction was 28.
Domasca Dan rose from the claiming ranks to be one the most popular horses at Woodbine from 1988-90. Claimed for $32,000 from his third career start by trainer Bob Tiller for owner Frank Di Giulio, the dark bay son of Same Direction proved to be a wise purchase.
"My father and I claimed him as a 2-year-old back in 1988," said Di Giulio Jr. in a Woodbine release. "He had run well his first race and won his second start and when he came back for the same price in his third start, he looked like he would be worth the money. There were seven claims in for him that day and we ended up getting lucky enough to win the shake for him."
Domasca Dan would win three in a row off the claim taking an allowance event in the slop, followed by victories in the Woodbine's Bull Page and Juvenile Stakes with Hall of Fame rider Sandy Hawley in the irons.
The speedy horse would prove to have stamina as well in a juvenile season that saw Domasca Dan tackle the legendary With Approval on four occasions. Domasca Dan's neck score in the Queenston Stakes would mark With Approval's only loss at Woodbine.
Ray Sabourin piloted Domasca Dan through the Canadian Triple Crown run as the scrappy front-runner finished second to With Approval in the Plate Trial and continued to hit the board finishing third in the Queen's Plate and second, defeated just a head, in the Prince of Wales Stakes, at Fort Erie.
"It was an exciting time. We were up against With Approval and the Sam-Son Farms horse, Most Valiant," recalled Di Giulio Jr. "A mile and a quarter was a bit of a question mark for him and it was probably a little further than he wanted to go, and unfortunately was in against the horse that won the Triple Crown. In any other year, he might have got a bit luckier."
Domasca Dan skipped the final leg of the Triple Crown and instead won the Col. R. S. Mclaughlin Stakes with Hawley holding the reins. After an inspired third-place run in the Molson Export Million, Domasca Dan traveled to Belmont Park and promptly won the one-mile Jamaica Handicap (gr. II) over Garemma and Is It True.
"The first time my dad got on an airplane was to go to New York to see Domasca Dan run," said Di Giulio Jr. "It was a real thrill to win a graded race at Belmont and beat horses that you'd seen on TV. Domasca Dan was the type of horse that played, 'Catch me if you can'. He dared horses to go after him and if they did, they would usually end up nowhere in the race. If things worked out, he'd hang on to win.
"He was a little high strung. Bob Tiller did a great job training him and getting the most out of him. He was just a game horse and had a ton of heart."
Domasca Dan would race four times as a 4-year-old, winning once, before retiring to a modest career at stud in 1992.
"He didn't have a huge number of foals over his career, but he is the broodmare sire of two champions, Win City (Canada's 2001 Horse of the Year) and Indian Apple Is (Canada's 2010 champion female sprinter), which I think is remarkable," said Di Giulio.
"Not only was he special to us as a racehorse, but he was special for what he gave to us after in the breeding shed. He will be missed."
Domasca Dan, who was bred in Ontario by Edward Long, is out of the Gold and Myrrh mare Golden Delta. Standing first at Longview Farms and later at Gardiner Farms Limited (now Mapleville Farms) in Ontario, he sired five stakes winners from 178 foals, for progeny earnings of more than $8.1 million.