Belmont Park—The Breeder’s Cup, the thoroughbred racing championship of North America will be held at Santa Anita on the weekend of November 2 and 3. The annual meeting of the top horses, jockeys and trainers has been the highlight of every racing year since 1984, when it was originated. The event has taken place at a variety of tracks including Belmont and Aqueduct Parks since its inception.
The major event of the fall meet at Belmont, Super Saturday, was held on September 29. Five Grade 1 races and one Grade 2 stakes with purses totaling nearly four million dollars were the centerpieces of a great day of racing on Long Island. Hall of Fame jockeys such as Mike Smith and Johnny Velazquez were in the irons, Hall of Fame trainers such as Bill Mott, Nick Zito and “Shug” McGaughey inspected their horses in the Paddock before they raced and some of the top horses in the nation and elsewhere ran.
The “Win and You’re In” challenge aspect added to the excitement and the importance of the races. The winners receive an automatic bid with all fees paid to the Breeder’s Cup.
The Beldame (4th race) and the Flower Bowl (8th race) were limited to fillies and mares, three years and up. The $600,000 Beldame was run on the main track at a distance of 1¼ mile. The race was the fifth meeting between the first and second finishers, Royal Delta and It’s Tricky. The HOF combo of Smith and Mott were successful as Royal Delta won handily by more than nine lengths. She will next attempt to win her second consecutive Ladies Classic at the Breeder’s Cup.
The Flower Bowl was won by Nahrain, an Irish horse, trained in Britain. The race on a yielding turf that was softened by the heavy rain of the day before the races encouraged some experienced bettors who understood that European horses generally run well on yielding turf. They collected $12 for every two they bet. For Velazquez, the win was his second of three straight races.
Velazquez was also the winner on the main track in the Vosburgh (7th race) and on the turf in the Joe Hirsch Classic (9th race). After not having been raced for nine weeks, The Lumber Guy won the six furlong sprint in the seventh.
The 1 1/4 turf ninth was captured by another HOF grouping, Velazquez and McGaughey. The win was the fifth consecutive for the short priced Point of Entry.
An 8-1 longshot, Jersey Town, was the victor in the one mile Grade 2 Kelso (6th race).
The $1,000,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup was the headline race of the day. Flat Out was victorious in the 1 1/4 running for the second straight year. The six year old colt had a different jockey, Joel Rosario, and different trainer, Bill Mott, than in the previous year. The closer under a jockey effective on a horse coming from behind closed a head in front of Stay Thirsty.
After the race, Mott praised the ride, “It looked like [Rosario] let him pick off a couple of horses on the backside, and he was doing it under a hold. That was a good thing. He hadn’t asked him to run. The horse was just striding out and picking up horses.”
The winners of these races and some of the other horses running on Saturday will spend the next several weeks preparing for the Breeder’s Cup.