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Breeders Cup 2015

Success Came Quickly for Donegal Racing

Belmont Stakes 2012 logo.
Photo: Kevin Creative (Kevin House)

Thoroughbred owners can go a lifetime without acquiring a horse who can make an impact on the Triple Crown, but such success has come quickly for Donegal Racing, which on Saturday will attempt to win its first Classic when the partnership, headed by Jerry Crawford, sends out Dullahan in the Belmont Stakes.


In 2008, Crawford formed a partnership among friends after purchasing eight yearlings at auction. One of the yearlings, Paddy O’Prado, went on to win the Grade 1 Secretariat and finish third in the Kentucky Derby for Donegal and trainer Dale Romans. Two years later, Donegal and Romans were third in the Derby once again, this time with Dullahan.


“Our partnership ranges from people who have been in the horse business for decades to people who had never been to a horse race until they became a partner in this,” said Crawford, an attorney from Des Moines, Iowa.


Crawford, who has served as the Iowa chair or co-chair for seven presidential campaigns, including Bill Clinton’s in 1996, said 22 partners are involved with Dullahan and that the group will have 300 supporters in tow on Saturday.


“Donegal started as a group of close friends, and it’s expanded to include close old friends and close new friends,” said Crawford. “We get to share experiences with our families and close friends, and that’s one of the best things life has to offer.”


Romans said he wouldn’t mind being booed if Dullahan won the Belmont, and Crawford expressed a similar, albeit slightly softer, sentiment.


“You can imagine the range of emotions is great, but we’re a very upbeat group, so being cast in the role of potential spoiler is a little alien to our personality,” said Crawford. “It’s our job [to challenge I’ll Have Another]. This is what we owe Affirmed, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat. If I’ll Have Another wins, I’ll be first in line to say, ‘This is an incredibly worthy champion.’”


On Thursday, Dullahan galloped 1 ½ miles and schooled in the paddock prior to the fourth race.


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