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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Races I Miss the Most

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 unique beauty.

 

 

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.

 

 

5. Massachusetts 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 2008.

 

 

Honorable Mention: Michigan Mile and One Eighth, Garden State Stakes, Everglade Stakes, Widener Handicap, and the Young America Stakes.

 

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Older Comments about The Races I Miss the Most...

In Ack Ack's HOY he had a surrogate, Cougar II whom he had beaten easily, go East and destroy all of their best in his absence. The pecking order was then re-affirmed and Whittingham's favorite charge, to the nod for best of that year.
  • sjuwill · cougar II was trounced in the inaugaral marlboro cup · 553 days ago
  • nick.arden.9 · Trounced? What are you are talking about sjuwill? Cougar II was third to Secretariat and Riva Ridge in the first Marlboro Cup. · 550 days ago
I also miss Marlboro Cup, Flamingo, Widener, Washington International. Michigan Mile and an eigth was the big event for the track. Meadowlands Cup became a dismisses race after Breeder's Cup started. I preferred the California Derby being run after the Santa Anita Derby when a horse could come up and surprise at Derby time, such as Casual Lies. I also remember when the Garden State Stakes was a big event for two year olds. Other races were run late at Aqueduct which allowed horses to stretch out over distances of ground. I particularly miss the races run at 12 to 18 furlongs.
The Michigan Mile.. only time any horses of any quality came to the state...back when we had thoroughbred racing at all... (honorable mention to all of the races New York has gutted distance wise, such as the CCA Oaks, the Personal Ensign, the JCGC, the Mother Goose etc. etc. which are now mere echos of what they once were).
Yes I do remember it had a nice run at the Meadowlands, and it drew a who's who of fillies in its time as did the Garden State for colts.
The Gardenia just missed out making the Top 10 ... remember it had many good years at The Meadowlands as well.
I also miss the Gardenia Stakes which was the filly counterpart of the Garden State Stakes.
@MichaelHorvarth, just thought I'd say Barbaro actually won the Laurel Futurity after the race was switched to turf.
I miss the Flamingo Stakes and the Marlboro Cup. New York's Fall Championship meet was the best way to determine Horse of the Year, NOT this one-race Breeder's Cup event where a horse beats another horse one-time, they are declared the better horse...that's a bunch of bull crap. Bring back the NY Fall Championship...The Marlboro Cup, the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup...the best races ever.
Historically it was MANDATORY for any horses destined for evaluation at year end, to meet one another, REPEATEDLY in a set of recognized historically relevant stakes contests at weight. The daring, also traversed the country to show their superiority by defeating the local top ones on their home track. The Breeder's Cup and the proliferation of cheap stakes at second rate courses changed all that.
This was about defunct races, but you guys are right ... many great races are mere shells of what they used to be.
Cigarette and booze money were great sources for racing. Good friend brought me the program from the Melbourne Cup (program cost 8 dollars) and EVERY race had a major sponsor, even the most minor ones.
The Ford Pinto this, the Rothman's International, YUM BRANDS Derby??? Funny stuff
I actually miss the Laurel Futurity as it used to be run, a mile and sixteenth on the dirt with such winners as Barbaro, Tapit, Affirmed, The Bid, Riva Ridge and Secretariat. It has now been reduced to a turf sprint.
Cool idea, Brian. I like the list and I completely agree about the Marlboro Cup. As a tangent to your list, I miss the old stakes names that they changed at Santa Anita last year.
I miss the MassCap the most, it was the only race that drew anyone of quality up here to Suffolk. Now we have the mighty African Prince as our top draw.
Agreed, and that one did make the honorable mention, ajump08 ... as the Garden State Stakes.
There's also the thought of races that once held such prestige and great fields year in and year out that have depleted: The Ladies Handicap, the Sunset Handicap, the San Juan Capistrano, the Brooklyn Handicap, the Strub Stakes, the Super Derby, the Swaps Stakes, the Californian Stakes, and of course the once premier Jersey Derby. G2 labels on historic races like the Suburban, the Hopeful, the Matron, and the Futurity represent a couple other instances were either class has dropped or possibly the graded stakes committee made a mistake.
A missed race is the Garden State Futurity, at one point the world's richest race and hosted the equivalent of today's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and horses like Secretariat, Riva Ridge, Spend a Buck and Carry Back.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.