1. Marlboro Cup (1973-1987) It may have been
short-lived, but during its’ fifteen year run at Belmont Park in the 70’s and 80’s, there was
no better race run in America than the Marlboro Cup. Its roll call of runners
reads like a who’s who of dirt racing beginning with the inaugural edition when
Secretariat defeated his older stablemate, Riva Ridge, in track record time.
2. Flamingo Stakes (1926-2001) Named after the
famous colony of pink flamingos ever present at historic Hialeah Park, the
Flamingo Stakes was as important as any of the Kentucky Derby preps. The nine
furlong affair not only hosted greats like Citation, Northern Dancer, and
Seattle Slew but also provided an oasis from the winter doldrums with its
3. Washington D.C. International (1952-1994)
From Kelso to Dahlia and before the Breeders’ Cup came along, no turf race was more important in
American racing than this late-season 12 furlong race held at Laurel Park. But
it was more than that, it was also America’s most international race, playing
host to top grass horses from all over the world on a yearly basis.
4. Meadowlands Cup (1977-2010) Another late-season race that had difficulty
maintaining its momentum after the unveiling of the Breeders’ Cup, the
Meadowlands Cup quickly became an important supplement to the key handicap
races of the fall in New York. With winners like Spectacular Bid, Wild Again,
and Alysheba, the importance of the first dozen years or so of the Meadowlands
Cup should not be undersestimated. I do not recognize the new Monmouth Cup as
the same race.
Handicap (1935-2008) With early winners such as
Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, and Stymie, the Mass ‘Cap was clearly a key spot for the
top handicap horses on the East Coast during some of the golden years of
racing. Despite some lean years, host track Suffolk fought to bring back the
big race back to prominence, and with horses like Lost Code, Waquoit, Cigar,
and Skip Away they succeeded to some extent, but it has not been run since
Honorable Mention: Michigan
Mile and One Eighth, Garden State Stakes, Everglade
Stakes, Widener Handicap, and the Young America Stakes.