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HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

Belmont Gold Cup Invitational is a wonderful thing

Twilight Eclipse 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
 
The Belmont Stakes and the wonderful card that NYRA has put together to accompany the third leg of the Triple Crown is all that anyone has been able to talk about for at least the last three weeks. But before we can get to Saturday and the superstars that card will feature, we first must get through Friday. While Friday might not have the star power that Saturday will certainly have, it does have one thing that I am truly looking forward to: the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes.
 
 
Gone are the days when true tests of stamina were fashionable. While once prevalent, graded stakes races at 10 furlongs or longer only comprise about 8% of the total number of graded stakes. While the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational is not graded since this will be its inaugural running, it is unique in that it is carded for 2 mile on the turf.
 
 
We have seen all the talk surrounding California Chrome since winning the Preakness. Will he get the Belmont distance of 1 ½ miles or will he fall short? Now imagine him having to go another half mile after that. As tough as 1 ½ miles has become in our speed dominant culture, imagine the tall task being asked of the 12 starters set to travel 2 miles in the inaugural edition of the Belmont Gold Cup. Seems staggering, right? And that right there is the problem. Breeders are catering to precocious, instant gratification 2-year olds rather than older horses that have the stamina to go 1 ½-2 miles.
 
 
As thrilling as sprinting can be, I prefer the longer races. They require not only stamina on the horses’ parts, but also strategy, in that jockeys really need to know when to ask their mounts to run and when to ask them to simply idle. So imagine my dismay when the Breeders’ Cup Marathon was scrapped. That in and of itself was a bleak day for the industry because if we don’t have the Marathon during the “Super Bowl of Horse Racing,” then why have any of the other longer distance races throughout the year? The answer to that question will, sadly, likely be that there is no reason whatsoever to have those races.
 
 
The Belmont has only withstood the test of time at 1 ½ miles because of its significance to the Triple Crown, but other races have been cut back throughout the years. The Jockey Club Gold Cup has been trimmed from 2 miles to its current distance of 1 ¼ miles. The Woodward Stakes was cut from 1 ¼ miles to 1 1/8 miles, its current running distance. But though the breeding for stamina school of thought has fallen out of favor and most classic distance races have been trimmed, there is some hope.
 
 
From a breeding perspective, there is still a long road ahead as speed is still very much in high demand, but tracks are beginning to change some of their races for the better in terms of asking for stamina and not necessarily speed. The Belmont Gold Cup Invitation is one of these races, but there are others as well. The Jamaica Handicap and the Garden City Stakes, both Grade 1 events, have been renamed and extended. They’ll be run on the Stars and Stripes card on July 5 at Belmont under the names the Belmont Derby Invitational and the Belmont Oaks Invitational and will both be carded at 1 ¼ miles. The drawback, however, is that both are on the turf, which means that while most dirt races are shrinking in terms of distance, the turf races are lengthening out.
 
 
So while most on Friday will be focused on the Grade 2 six furlong True North, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the 10th and final race of the day: the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational. Headed by Twilight Eclipse, all but one if the field have never been asked to race so far. It will be a true to test of stamina for all, but due to the lack of experience at the distance, it will also be a jockey’s race. Strategy and remembering that this is no ordinary race will be just as important as the ability of the horses to get the distance. Sadly, the winner will be the one best able to hang around for so long and not necessarily the “best” horse in the race. But just having a race of this distance is a start…and a wonderful thing. 

 

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Older Comments about Belmont Gold Cup Invitational is a wonderful thing...

sullivan is rafi
Yet we still have lead the world in racing, as our bloodstock is prevalent throughout the world which also adopted our photo finish cameras, starting gates, helmets, riding styles, and blinkers
ONE venue in the world is distinct in its disdain for what the breed was initially called on to do: go the distance and that is in North America
Whoever this Sullivan1 idiot is, ya...Fame and Glory Sucked...You do remember before they went to Staying races, he was running against Sea The Stars. Probabley the best 3 year old since Lammtarra and before him Dancing Brave.
Sorry but just because you don't hold Stayers in the same high regard as others...doesn't make them less of a champion compared to the Middle distance champs. Go to Europe and ask who was a better horse, and or Champion...Ouija Board, Dylan Thomas Hurricane run...OR Yeats. Sea The Stars and Zarkava were Were leaps and bounds above all other Middle Distance horses in 08, and 09 Respectively.
Yeats was a great stayer, obviously, but Ouiji Board, Hurricane Run, Dylan Thomas, Sea The Stars and Zarkava were the ‘untested’ champions of his era, eep.
i am so excited about this race, too! it was so hard to handicap, given how few truly long races there are nowadays, but i'm really hoping that this is a first step toward more long races, more prestigious long races, and more incentive to breed for stamina. this race should be the beginning of something amazing.
ya flame and glory sucked
To yeats, 10F races were like sprints.
How about Fame and Glory taking back to back editions of the Vintage Crop Stakes for a whopping 49K, leading Light also won that race for 45k.
I'm going with the Irish filly. Because she has the best jockey and she's an Irish filly.
YEATS was a champion who would race for 200K a race. Not a good enough champion for ya?
YEATS was a champion who would race for 200K a race. Not a good enough champion for ya?\
Ascot Gold Cup(GR1)-$480,000 US Dollars, Goodwood Cup(GR2)- $168,000 US Dollars, Irish St.Leger(GR1)- $270,000 US Dollars. Three very important races in GB/IRL for stayers, and they don't offer massive purses. If you want good purse money for staying races, go to Australia for the Cup, or Dubai.
*who can win
They are not all graded stakes "marathons", but check at your nearby track for end of the meet longer routes. If you start to follow the horses that compete in these, and you figure out who an win, you may say "fun", not "slow". Horses like fan favorites Ea or Porfido, or a Belmont Gold Cup entry, Mambo Man. So Cal still has graded stakes marathons. Not sure if the Cougar II will still be run.
Nor money to be won t_v and 1955. What ‘champions’ would target 2 miles for $200K? Worldwide, the money is targeted on 1 ¼ and 1 ½ miles, not the 2 milers. But it’s a start :)
It's not like most thoroughbreds can't run 2 miles. They do it all the time. But they aren't going to be running 24 second quarters in a long race, they'll have to pace themselves. I think the problem really lies in the audience, if they don't see those 24 second quarter times they'll all chant in unison "SLOWWWW".
Beyer pointed out recently that there are hardly any graded stakes at true TEST distances.
I've been beating this drum for years...nothing wrong with the sprints, I enjoy them too but in order for there to be a true "test of champions" you have to have some distance races...thank goodness there are still a few out there :)

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis
  
 

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

 

Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

 

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.