ELMONT, N.Y. – English import Call To Mind, bred and owned by Her Majesty, The Queen, swept to the lead on the far turn and used the length of the stretch to fend off Canessar and fellow European invader Prince of Arran for a popular and record-setting victory in Friday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Park.
The fifth running of the two-mile Gold Cup for 4-year-olds and up on the Widener turf course was the last of four graded stakes worth $1.5 million in purses on an 11-race program that marked the midpoint of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Making his North American debut under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, Call To Mind went off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of eight and completed the distance in 3:16.78 over the firm course, a Belmont track record. The previous mark of 3:17.29 was set by Da Big Hoss in the 2016 Belmont Gold Cup.
Carrying Elizabeth II’s purple and scarlet colors, a rare sight at American racetracks, Call To Mind was The Queen’s first starter at Belmont since Dawn Glory, trained by Christophe Clement, finished third in a maiden special weight on Oct. 26, 2012.
“He’s a horse at home that fits in a Group 2-level caliber and there aren’t many Group 2-level races written. When looking over the program, this was the perfect race,” said John Warren, racing manager for The Queen.
“Although he’d never run over two miles, he’s run his best race at a mile and seven-eighths. So, we felt that this trip is something that we could latch onto. What makes a mockery of his breeding is that his dam [Memory, by Danehill Dancer] was a brilliant six-furlong mare. And she’s bred a brilliant 2-year-old that hasn’t gone beyond seven furlongs. So that’s what makes us keep guessing and The Queen gets so much pleasure out of this.”
Postulation, an English-bred gelding based in Maryland, was unhurried on the lead going in fractions of 26.07 seconds, 50.74 and 1:15.53 as the field strung out behind him. Call To Mind saving ground in a stalking spot running second, followed by Cooptado, Prince of Arran and Funny Kid, the last of the race’s European contingent.
A mile and a quarter went in 2:04.10 with Postulation still in front, but Castellano steered Call To Mind from the rail to the outside of the pacesetter to launch their bid leaving the backstretch. Meeting little opposition to the front, they straightened for home and dug in through the lane as Canessar, a French-bred winner of the 2017 Laurel Turf Cup, and Prince of Arran loomed a threat.
“It was a perfect trip,” Castellano said. “I liked the way he did it today. It’s two miles. European horses, you need to cover up a little bit and let them finish. I like the way he finished. Very impressive. I’m very grateful to ride these types of horses.”
Canessar held on for second, a neck ahead of Prince of Arran. It was another three-quarters of a length back to late-running Rocketry in fourth, followed by Funny Kid, Nessy, Cooptado and Postulation.
Call To Mind, a 4-year-old bay son of multiple Group 1 winner Galileo, Europe’s champion 3-year-old colt of 2001 and the leading sire in England and Ireland nine of the last 10 years, returned $5.60 for a $2 win bet.
The $220,000 winner’s share of the purse more than doubled Call To Mind’s career bankroll to $359,538 through nine starts. The Belmont Gold Cup was his third win and first since the Goodwood Revival March Stakes last August at Goodwood.
This marked the second straight year the Belmont Gold Cup was won by a horse from overseas. Irish-bred Red Cardinal, a Group 2 winner in Germany, captured last year’s edition when it was a Grade 3 race.