Americans In The Melbourne Cup? NYRA Cards Two-Mile Race On Belmont Day

by | 03.19.2017 | 5:07pm
Flemington Race Course is home to the "race that stops a nation," the Melbourne Cup

The New York Racing Association's Martin Panza, senior vice president of racing operations, has been working with Australia's Victoria Racing Club to try to drum up American interest in that country's premier event, the Melbourne Cup. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, NYRA has carded a two-mile race for Belmont Stakes Day in June, calling it the Belmont Gold Cup, which should provide a high enough ranking for any American horse looking to be invited to the Melbourne Cup.

“Its not been easy as we don't produce a lot of staying horses in the US. Most of ours are horses that have been bought in Europe and brought to America,” said Panza. “But we would like to encourage Americans to have a look at running in the Melbourne Cup. With the internationalization of racing, the travel being much easier now and the way horses from all over the world run in the race it would be great to have an American interest too.”

Other countries have been successful in the Melbourne Cup, including Ireland, France, Germany, and Japan. Horses to place in the Melbourne Cup have come from countries like England and even South Africa. Unusual Suspect was one American-bred horse to contest the Melbourne Cup recently, but he had pretty much been transferred to Australia for several starts before that contest, and finished off the board in both of his attempts.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald.

  • Tinky

    Patently absurd! The likelihood of an American runner having the proverbial snowball’s chance in the MC is roughly nil.

    Panza’s efforts would be much better spent helping to develop a division of staying horses in the U.S., which he is actually in a position to do.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

    • Kevin Callinan

      God forbid we ever try something new

      • Tinky

        Great point!

        Perhaps NYRA should create a race to foster world peace, a concept that would have about the same chances of success as a single novelty race producing a MC winner.

        • Figless

          Its not a new race, the Belmont Gold Cup at 2 Miles was first run in 2014 I believe. It was won by Da Big Hoss in 2016. While unclear in the article whats new is it being moved to Belmont Stakes Day.

          • Tinky

            I didn’t say that it was a “new” race. It’s a novelty race, because there is no division of stayers in the U.S.

        • Kevin Callinan

          21K horses were foaled in the US in 2016- are they all sprinters? If there was a division for the marathoner isn’t it possible that 5% or a thousand horses might be better suited for it? You were painfully wrong about the success of the Pegasus and now you’d like to invalidate another decent idea. This sport is stagnant in the US but thriving elsewhere- time to figure out why.

          • Tinky

            Boy, you are remarkably obtuse.

            If there was a division for the marathoner isn’t it possible that 5% or a thousand horses might be better suited for it?

            I was lobbying to rekindle such a division decades before Christopher Kay knew a single nuance relating to Thoroughbreds, and Martin Panza had ever imagined that he would work for NYRA.

            I’ve also made the point on number of occasions over many years on this very blog.

            The problem, which you are somehow unable to grasp, is that “divisions” are never created by running a single race. Or two or three, for that matter. There needs to be a program of staying races, so that horses can be developed within the division. Otherwise you’ll just have horses unproven in staying races taking shots in one or two “big” races every year.

            So, to be as clear as possible, I’m glad that there is a two-mile race, but emphasizing one valuable race is not the way to go about re-creating a division of stayers.

            Finally, please stop with the embarrassing nonsense about the Pegasus being a “success” after a single edition. It’s a conclusion that no thoughtful observer could possibly arrive at until the race has been run at least several times.

          • Kevin Callinan

            A sold out event in our sport is a monumental success. Your insistence that we need a lengthy sampling is obtuse. Racing doesn’t have time to satisfy your vetting process; big tracks are closing or significantly downsizing on a yearly basis. We need ideas, not the negativity that permeates this blog- that achieves nothing. Obviously Panza is hoping that other tracks will develop preps between now and June. Some trainers will balk at it but a guy who trains like a Tim Ritchey could have the right horse ready for two miles in June.

          • Tinky

            Panza’s hoping that other tracks will develop “preps”? Really?

            And with the amount of money that NYRA wastes on bad NY-breds, and lards other stakes with, they themselves can’t be bothered to create some stepping-stone races? The odd maiden race, a few 1x and 2x allowances? They need other tracks for that?


          • Rufusous

            Unfortunately, American thoroughbreds not being able to stay is directly attributable to a couple of factors: the rise of the pinhooker and, the decline of the big racing outfits. It took generations to undo all the great American breeding that went before. The “selling points” of the pinhookers were that “every day Joes” could prevail in winning races by owning horses that had speed and precocity.

            Very few big racing outfits exist today. Trying now to undo years of neglect, and waste, ……….. of careful, focused breeding from the years before, is the albatross circling over the head of all American thoroughbred breeders.

            Don’t blame Panza! He recognizes the problem! He’s trying to create more of an interest in distance races by carding a few of them. If the vast majority of thoroughbreds being bought and brought to the racetrack don’t have stamina …… races don’t get carded for distance by racing secretaries. Blame the rise of the pinhookers, who sold the speed and win – early concept to American thoroughbred buyers for creating the problem.

          • Kevin Callinan

            It’s refreshing to hear a viewpoint that doesn’t start by condemning a new idea. I think the key early on will be the cooperation between tracks. If NYRA can work with Stronach to create a dirt series that builds the stamina needed. We already bet on races in Hong Kong, Europe and Dubai- a US interest in the Melbourne Cup would create even more interest in the Australian product. All sports are looking to exploit the global market- US racing can capitalize if they organize.

          • Rufusous

            Thank You Kevin but, I don’t view the problem as one that began because of racetracks or racing secretaries. Racetracks and racing secretaries are looking to fill the starting gate with horses for their contests. The racetracks and racing secretaries are merely responding to the abundance of horses bought and sold to owners and going to racetrack that are bred for speed. Trust me ……. if there were more stamina based horses on the grounds at the racetracks, there would be a lot more distance races carded. Filling the starting gate is how racetracks make money and survive. Racetracks and racing secretaries are just responders.

            With the decline of the big racing outfits, pinhookers pounced, and prevailed. They saw an opportunity to enrich themselves, while focusing their matings on speed and precocity. The absolute craziness of who puts in the fastest 1 or 2 furlong workout before a big auction sale is testament to what, and where, the American thoroughbred breeding industry has gone. In my opinion, it has gone backwards! Instead of taking the necessary time to breed something that can run farther as well as fast, they’ve just chosen expediency ……. demonstrating for all to see that their horses can run fast, early on. Emerging owners “bought into” the new concept, and years and years of painstaking good American thoroughbred breeding got undone. I am a very, very small thoroughbred owner and breeder, and it makes me sick, as well as many other horse people, to see what has gone on in the thoroughbred industry.

          • Kevin Callinan

            I agree with your premise but I’m looking at the future of the colt that runs a 12 at the OBS sale. Eldaafer was claimed for 20K in NY- he couldn’t win an allowance race at the normal distance. In 2010 he won the BC Marathon and finished w/ over a million in earnings. He was given a second chance as a distance horse- my guess is there are many more like him.

          • Mr J

            Stinky is absurd,a know-it-all who’s actually clueless

          • Finbarr

            Tinky Winky is 20 years behind the times….Great idea some of those 5000 claimers will show a new lease of life…Grass 2 miles….The American race horse is the toughest in the world….Why???? I’ve been around the world and seen them preform…I.E. keenland is the biggest international sale in the world…Wonderful idea good luck to all…

        • Andy in the desert

          Yeah, Ron Artest could be the master of ceremonies!!!

  • SaratogaJ

    One race means little. Perhaps Panza and his counterparts at other major tracks should consider looking back two or three decades to see which races have been cut back in distance and to begin to restore them to the traditional distances in order to put some balance back into American racing. There’s a long list of graded stakes including Grade I races that have been trimmed by anywhere from a furlong to six furlongs since the 1970s and 1980s. NYRA is one of the worst culprits.

    • Mindy

      yes! yes! yes!

  • Bryan Langlois

    “Other countries have been successful in the Melbourne Cup, including Ireland, France, Germany, and Japan. Horses to place in the Melbourne Cup have come from countries like England and even South Africa.”
    Hmm…and what do all of those countries have in common?? Horses that are actually bred for distance and not just for quick return on investment as 2YO sprinters. Doubt you will get many breeders in the US to focus on longer distances just for chance at Melbourne Cup. Heck…do we even have any staying influence sires left or have they all been purchased and taken overseas??

    • brussellky

      Kitten’s Joy comes to mind and one of his sons, Charming Kitten, has won the 2 mile Belmont Gold Cup.

    • Tom Davis

      It took many generations to breed the staying power out of our horses. It will take many generations to breed it back.

  • Fred

    Hmm…since the clowns that run NYRA these days are so insistent on moving this race to Belmont Stakes Day, how about moving the Met Mile back to Memorial Day where it belongs? Just a thought, but probably not.

    • SPA

      I miss the Metropolitan on Memorial Day.

    • Andy in the desert

      But those clowns at NYRA are probably failed wannabe politicians, which explains everything.

    • Mr J

      The best day of racing of the year in the U.S. Yeah,terrible idea.

  • Michael Castellano

    I think they will be running this race as a one mile relay, where after a mile the jockeys will have to hand off to another horse who will run the second mile. BTW, as far as I know, the only graded race every run in NY at two miles was the Jockey Gold Cup, won by the great Kelso five years in a row. They kept reducing the distance to the current 1 1/4.

    • whirlaway

      What a hoot a relay unless there is a Kittens Joy turf horse running and his jockey may remain in the saddle and continue. I wish that JCGC was still two miles but I guess there
      would not be many running in that. Once there was a horse named Kelso but only once
      he was really something, I do not make predictions but I think I am safe with this one
      there will never be another horse like Kelso and his achievements.

      • erhrdtthree

        Or Ruffian. She could sprint, and then go a mile and a half the next time and record track records every time. Jacinto took her out to two miles as she was still full of dynamite after running that far. Where have these types of horses gone!?!? Also if you want to read about a spectacular mare, read about IMP, totally amazing what she did what was asked of her and won too. Thanks, Whirlaway :)

        • whirlaway

          Imp was even for her time quite a horse to say the very least. BTW IN 1955 a poll conducted at Delaware Park by The American Trainers Assoc. of the greatest race mares until that time Imp was not forgotten she was 10th among some great mares. Number 1 was another of my favorites Gallorette with a record of 72 starts 21-20-13 54 times in the money because distaff races had such poor purses much of her career was against males and she was not any hot house flower not only 16.1 hands she was tough. What can anyone say about Ruffian that has not already been said
          that was one of the times I did not watch much racing after her loss but as with many of us we get
          pulled back by the horses. There is another very interesting book called They’re off
          by Edward Totaling that is a history of Saratoga, if you like that type of book it is a
          fascinating history of Saratoga going back to George Washington’s time when he tried to buy Hugh parcels of land. Very colorful history a great book for a long winter
          In New England where I live. Early races there were run in heats which is not even
          imagined in modern times. Your question of where of these horses gone
          could be a week end seminar. It was not that many years in breeding since horses like Round Table Kelso Whirlaway Gallorette the tough California bred Native Diver and many more were around. What has changed are owners that were once true Sportsman no fancy money making stud deals which is fine today we all like money but breeding to improve the throughbred sometimes does not seem
          to be part of the itenery. Trainers and methods are different and I hate to even open up this can of worms drugs. Too much in society is not fixing a problem but relaying
          on drugs even with humans. Drugs have a place of course but not the way we use them today. Sadly this is the new racing and I know a few of us get going on this topic frequently but we are eventually moving toward racing as we know it now to be the norm and the horses I have mentioned among others will be a memory as they already are. I guess if owners like buying horses that often don’t make it to even
          20 starts it is fine and people think a horse that has run 25 to 30 times are like horses of the past they better do their homework on that naive assumption. Racing has never been perfect and every past great horse were not all that tough and hardy but there was enough that really displayed their talent that made it a glorious time to be a fan.

      • Kevin Callinan

        Kelso was the horse that drew me to the sport. I thought Shared Belief had a chance to have a similar career before his unfortunate death- he won the Mailbu at 7F and the Big Cap at 1M 1/4 just 3 months apart. Game on Dude was a little distance challenged and conceded weight- but not the way Kelso did. Forego could get a mile or longer like Kelso and give weight but that is still 45 years ago. I guess if we can have a Triple Crown winner again we just might see another Kelso.

        • whirlaway

          It sure would be a miracle to see another like Kelso and to stay racing for so long
          I imagine it would need to be another gelding. I was a teenager when he came to California to race and even though he failed to win fans were still overjoyed to see him. I loved Shared Belief and hoped he would be an exciting horse which of course he was. His death sure knocked fans for a loop. It was much the same as the beautiful and tough California gelding Native Diver he had won his most recent stakes and 8 days later gone with colic he also was rushed to Davis. The only difference was he had run longer and was not as young but wow he was a real fan favorite made 81 starts and still seemed to enjoy running.

          • Kevin Callinan

            I had the same experience at Monmouth- he got beat by Mongo and Carry Back!

          • whirlaway

            You sure were treated to three horses that day tough competitors, Mongo might not be as well remembered as Kelso and Carry Back. What a wrong side of the tracks story was Carry Back. Those three horses ran 170 races between them but the best
            was we saw a great horse with an amazing record and Carry Back he also was so popular a real fans type of horse. He even ventured to France for the Prix de l’ Arc
            de Triomphe. The 60’s was still a great time for horse racing.

  • Tom Davis

    I hope Belmont Park doesn’t put this race in the pick 6. A player would have to push the all button.

    • Tinky

      You think that’s bad – I once lost a pick-6 at Arlington because they put an Arabian race in the sequence!

      • Larry Sterne

        what’s makes you think you would have picked a winner if not an Arab. was running?

        • Tinky


      • Tom Davis

        Did the fillies and mares in the race have to wear a burqa?

        • Tinky

          No, but one came up bacon positive.

    • Decimus_D

      Id take a 2 mile race over a 5 1/2f turf sprint any day.

  • SPA

    I love when this clown Panza has to speak as if he’s some aristocrat from Europe by calling them “staying horses”.

  • longshot

    What is the purse?

  • Nytex

    The main objective here is to get more $$$ into the pool.

  • Larry Sterne

    u have to start somewhere. staring with a 2 mile on Belmont Day will give the effort some prestige. It is sad that we don’t take care of the breed by having races for all distances. Ellis Park has/had a marathon race and is very popular on that day. what is sadder trainers don’t know how to train for the distance. I bot a horse off the track,for polo, by Sunshine Forever out of a Cox’s Ridge mare in okla. The y were trying to make a sprinter out of him!! He could go all day buy not at warp speed. Hope the 2 mile effort is successful.

  • William Gotimer

    Didn’t they run this race the last few years on the day before the Belmont? Is this news?

  • kuzdal

    So, we have the Breeders Cup (2 days), the Triple Crown (3 days), Haskell, Travers and now the Pegasus (because it was mentioned below). Eight “must-see” days of racing in the United States.

    Along the way, haven’t I read that thoroughbred horse racing has a problem with an absence of stars or, if they exist, they’re off to the breeding shed far too quickly? I know I have….

    Why, suddenly, is there a need to compact four or five additional stakes onto card that focuses on one race and maybe only one horse? At the Belmont, out of the 90,000 in attendance, are there more than 15,000 who know enough about the sport to recall any of the best at 2 miles? Probably not. So, rather than make this race a headliner (you can pick the day), we package it with a number of added-money events that mean….absolutely….nothing to the majority of the crowd.

    So, rather than try to develop fans who appreciate the route to your major events, we’re stuck with eight cards that people talk about. I don’t get it. Maybe I need to understand how Panza “earns” his bonuses.

    • Decimus_D

      The money speaks for itself. Big racing days are far more profitable than having a stakes race every weekend. Take the Met Mile everyone likes to complain about. Before moving to Belmont day the WPS handle was around 800K, while now its over 2 million.

      • Waquoit

        We can’t have you messing up some good rants by injecting facts, DD.

        • kuzdal

          My post had nothing to do with the handle on Belmont Stakes Day, but, I could start there.

          If the Met Mile used to handle 800K in WPS pools, as Decimus pointed out, do you want me to believe that a 125% increase in pool size is a success (when your paid attendance is 500% higher)? To me, it isn’t.

          My thought goes to the growth of the wagering fan base. Fans who will go to the track, make it a “place to be”, rather than just a race track. When you exclude the premier race cards in the United States, the game is dead. So, I wonder if stacking a number of races – like the Met Mile, a great race – on Belmont Stakes Day does anything at all to help the game and its’ survival.

          I will get the numbers but….how has the success of the Haskell translated into growth at Monmouth Park? It hasn’t….but I will get that later on.

  • CK

    I think there should be a sustained effort here in the U.S. to build a stayers’ division on grass. Of course, in it’s early days, such a thing wouldn’t rival the show that is put on in Europe or Australia. But it should start somewhere besides a starter allowance series that racetracks currently try to pass off as this kind of event. We are talking about an entire untapped market, and someone has to take the first step. There is already a Melbourne Cup winner standing here in the states in Americain…let’s get some more stayers in the mix.

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