Stayers Again Steal Ascot Show

Someone asked me today to send them a link to the column I wrote five years ago about Yeats’ record-breaking fourth Ascot Gold Cup victory. That got me thinking about this year’s Gold Cup, which awakened those same feelings I felt back in 2009. Watching the favored Leading Light, from the same Ballydoyle Stable as Yeats, outfight and outlast The Queen’s gallant filly Estimate, the equally gallant filly Missunited at 40-1, and the hard-trying Brown Panther in a gut-busting stretch run after 2 1/2 miles was as exciting as racing gets. Adding to the excitement and drama was the fact that Estimate, who rocked Ascot into delirium last year by winning the Gold Cup for The Queen, was making her first start of the year.

These were true warriors, battling through exhaustion over a stamina-testing undulating course, yet none of them were backing down. Finally, Brown Panther gave way, leaving Leading Light to fight it out with the two fillies. At the finish, the three were separated by a neck and a short head.

That also got me thinking about some of the great moments in American racing over the past couple of years. Right up near the top of the list were the two spectacular victories by the Argentinian oldtimer Calidoscopio, whose breathtaking stretch runs in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at 1 3/4 miles and 2013 Brooklyn Handicap at 1 1/2 miles (now marathons by our standards) brought waves of cheers from the appreciative crowd. Considering Calidoscopio was 10 years old when he won the Brooklyn, coming from 22 lengths back near the head of the stretch, it made his victory all the more popular and memorable.

Just thinking about Yeats, Leading Light, Estimate, Missunited, and Calidoscopio, it made me sad that the Breeders’ Cup has decided to eliminate the Marathon. Does anyone at the Breeders’ Cup remember the heart-throbbing nose finish between the 3-year-old Ballydoyle invader Man of Iron and the 9-year-old American Cloudy’s Knight in the 2009 BC Marathon? Apparently not. So, just like that, the Marathon is gone, as are the dreams of horsemen who have stayers (a dirty word in American racing). Let’s hope the racetracks who have carded long-distance preps the past six years keep them to at least give these horses someplace to perform to their strength. I can understand the Breeders’ Cup’s thinking in their decision, as the race was not supported as they had hoped. Nevertheless, still it makes me sad. Perhaps if the race were run at two miles we at least may have gotten legitimate European stayers instead of the in-betweeners, and it would have been a true marathon. But that is pure speculation.

Oh, to remember a horse like the Frank Martin-trained Paraje, who became a legend in the early ‘70s, winning the 2 1/4-mile Display Handicap three years in a row. Of course, there was Kelso, who won five consecutive runnings of the then two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. Must so many things in racing become nothing more than distant memories?

The person on Facebook suggested I reprint the column on Yeats, and after reading it again and rekindling those same feelings this year, the year the Marathon died, I decided to do just that.



All Hail Yeats

For 32 years I was able to say I was at Royal Ascot to witness history. Well, it’s history no more. It was 1977, my first trip to Ascot, and I was privileged to see the great stayer Sagaro become the first horse in the 170-year history of the Ascot Gold Cup to win the 2 1/2-mile race three times. To do it in successive years made the feat all the more impressive.

Watching Yeats this morning break Sagaro’s record, storming to victory in the Gold Cup for the fourth consecutive year, it brought a sense of purity and timelessness to the Sport of Kings that has been lost in this country. To hear the Ascot crowd salute the Ballydoyle-trained 8-year-old with an ovation worthy only of true champions, it showed there still is a place in the heart for the long-distance runner.

The purity and timelessness I refer to is stamina, an inherent trait of the Thoroughbred that has been so consumed by speed over the past several decades it has all but disappeared. What trickle of stamina, or at least what resembles stamina, that does remain is frowned upon by owners, trainers, and especially breeders.

There certainly is nothing wrong with speed, which is the premise on which the sport was born. But there is more to speed than five- and six-furlong races or even eight- and nine-furlong races. As was written about Sagaro: “Sagaro despite being an out and out stayer had a blistering turn of foot and could give an electrifying burst of a rocket propelling in the air, at the end of two and a half miles.”

What has made this year’s Ascot meet so memorable and significant is that we saw history made at 2 1/2 miles by a European horse -- I emphasize horse (not a gelding), by Sadler's Wells -- and at five furlongs by American horses -- two distinct worlds coming together to form a magnificent tapestry of the turf. In addition to Yeats, we had General Wesley Ward lead an unprecedented army of 2-year-old sprinters across the Atlantic to put on a spectacular display of American speed in front of The Queen and everyone else hoping to establish Royal Ascot as a true international event. By winning the listed Windsor Castle Stakes on Tuesday, Strike the Tiger became the first American-trained horse ever to win a race at Royal Ascot. By winning Wednesday’s group II Queen Mary Stakes, Jealous Again became the first American horse to win a group race at Royal Ascot.

To then have Yeats win his fourth consecutive Gold Cup the following day, it not only inscribed two new chapters in racing lore it burned this year’s Royal Ascot meet into the hearts and minds of racing fans in Europe and America.

The resounding ovation given Yeats is what this sport is all about. We even had a slight hint of it in this country last year when the 10-year-old Evening Attire was given a hearty round of applause by the Belmont Park fans after finishing second in a gallant effort in the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn Handicap. There is just something about watching a horse, especially an old horse like Evening Attire or Yeats, run his heart out at the end of a long-distance race that strikes an emotional chord.

I heard those same cheers in 1977 when Sagaro defeated the top-class stayer Buckskin, despite having fallen victim to his rival on three occasions that year. Also in the field was the previous year’s St. Leger winner Bruni. Buckskin not only had beaten Sagaro in three major stakes in France prior to the Gold Cup, he had annihilated him by 20 lengths in the Prix Jean Prat. But in France’s top stamina test, the Prix du Cadran, Sagaro had cut that margin to three-quarters of a length.

In the Gold Cup, Sagaro burst to the lead and opened up to the cheers of the crowd who were looking to witness history. It was if Sagaro knew the Gold Cup was his race, just as Yeats appears to know it. He drew off from Buckskin to win by five lengths, establishing a record that would last for more than three decades.

In a bit of irony, the horse Yeats defeated today, Patkai, had won one race this year…the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.

I remember standing and cheering Sagaro with everyone else that day as the grand-looking chestnut with the attractive stripe down his face was led into the winner’s enclosure.

I couldn’t help but relive those memories and emotions watching Yeats charge to victory today and march into the winner’s enclosure to those same cheers.

So, here is a toast to longevity, perseverance, courage, and stamina.

As William Butler Yeats himself wrote: “Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.”


40 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Afleet

Most American bred horses can only go 6-7F-tops.  Laurel has a nice 1 1/8 oval but minimal races at that distance.  I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk to reduce the distance of the Belmont stakes.  BC classic will probably be run @1 1/16 in a few years.

22 Jun 2014 9:41 PM
Hardlyhatful

A true shame America continues to shorten or eliminate the races that where once considered the best & most prestigious races.

22 Jun 2014 10:06 PM
jlh0328

Could'nt agree more!  It was one of the best betting races of the B.C., AND one of the most entertaining to watch!  Longer races are simply more interesting!  More factors in play as to the outcome...rather than just smash the gas and see who runs out last...smh!  And as a result, we will now see the few preps for the "marathon" disappear...sad!  Yet people wonder why we cannot get another triple crown winner, while the "industry" treats stamina as a plague?!?  Its a shame that the majestic animals of this sport are guided by such flawed humans...

22 Jun 2014 10:50 PM
Karen in Indiana

My 3 favorite breeders cup events are the Turf, the classic and the late Marathon. It takes a special horse to go a distance and do it fast. Most of the turf horses are around for a few years, so you have time to get to know them. And since the U.S. breeders don't seem to value the long distance horses, they stick around for a while also. I look forward to going to Old Friends to meet Eldaafer, who won the marathon in 2010.

22 Jun 2014 11:37 PM
Meghan

I hate that the Breeders' Cup did away with the Marathon. Calidoscopio's win was one of the coolest races that year, as was the Man of Iron-Cloudy's Knight race.

23 Jun 2014 12:25 AM
Racingfan

I agree about the discontinuation of the Marathon.  I was so happy when they added it and just as disappointed now that they did away with it.  I am also saddened by the continual shortening of historic American races.  I can only hope that it will stop rather than get worse...!   :-(

23 Jun 2014 12:26 AM
BelmontBarb

Steve ~ just my sentiment - I also made a brief comment of the same sort most recently on the Buckpasser article here in BH.  I do believe that developing more races of greater distance would be very worthwhile not only to racing but to our horses.  It is a known fact that our "American bred horses" can not meet the greater distance and we already know about the speed requirement that has infected most breeders, owners and trainers alike - a drug that needs an anecdote.  Structuring longer distance races and aiming to rebuild the breed we now have by slowly introducing them into these "marathons"  in an effort to regain the qualities that you "toast" !  Ill drink to that!

European horses we must admit are trained across pastures and fields of green - driving through hills and digging into sands along coastal waters in heavy and thick sands where the air is filled with salt or facing the cold as they release a cloud of warm breath from a steaming body of muscle....just take a look at some of them - magnificence in a masterpiece of power that never seems to falter.  Instead we are adapting to the result of a weakened breed by shortening distance and discarding those races of royalty that were the backbone of an empire.  Of course, the process to get to the marathon is a challenge in itself and would take an enormous amount of patience and foresight and would certainly require the "perseverance, courage and stamina" of those individuals that are responsible to and for the athlete - in this case - our horses.  This would bring a tremendous change to racing - in a sense, we would be working in reverse - but the result would be most rewarding.  This would create a whole new influx of horses and their connections to come here to meet us on our ground - most inviting and most needed to draw the crowd.  

Shortening distance is shortening development of a breed that is frail and weakened. Most obvious in the best of races we have held.  An athlete needs to build up if he is to survive grueling competition or accept the heartbreak emotion of defeat.

I love the quote you have supplied here by William Butler Yeats - it is truly an ending that supports your absolute and passionate thoughts as it does mine,

                             Thank you

23 Jun 2014 12:42 AM
Dance with Fate

How fitting that Yeats' equine namesake embodies the words of that poet, as do many noble equine 'stayers'.  Mr. Haskin, your ability to make racing's heritage a living presence is always appreciated.

23 Jun 2014 2:20 AM
Giddyup

I think as the movement to get medication out of American racing gets stronger you will see more breeders looking to get back to pedigree lines that produce the stamina. I've never followed the British racing that closely but we all know Kelso was one of the all-time greats.

23 Jun 2014 6:04 AM
Kelso1966

Another wonderful piece. I love the stayers. I was sad to hear of the discontinuation of the BC Marathon.  My UK friends were rather astounded by it. They love their stayers.  

23 Jun 2014 7:13 AM
sara futh

Thanks for voicing the disappointment of all the fans of stamina and races over a distance. I wish some track would take up the slack - perhaps Saratoga? - with a series of "marathon" races starting at 1 3/8 to 1 1/2 to 1 34 and 2 miles??? making it worthwhile to sen true stayers to compete.

23 Jun 2014 9:50 AM
ksweatman9

Who is pleased with the decision to scrap the BC marathon? Come on, show of hands. Well, my next question is, why can't we convey that message to the powers that be? If enough of us voiced our disappointment with their decision, perhaps they would reconsider at some point, or bring it back at an even longer distance. We all love those stayers. Nice piece, Steve.

23 Jun 2014 9:52 AM
Mister Frisky

Great timing of your article Steve.The lack of real two horses always come up around TC time,and is valid.My theory is simple.Several top two turn dirt horses were never able to pass that trait to their down line.Affirmed sired Flawlessly multiple G1 winner on turf and not much else.Spectacular Bid failed miserably at stud.Alydar great distance sire whose sons couldn't come close to to their daddy,espically Alysheba.Easy Goer early death,never got a chance to get going at stud.Unbridled a great sire who died early and had probably 8 to 10 crops left in him.Cigar had his fertility problems.Sunday Silence to Japan where he changed their whole breeding program.Empire Maker a stayer with the sports best pedigree starts to get going then is shipped to Japan as well.That's just the few that come to mind,things just didn't turn out like they probably should have.

23 Jun 2014 1:01 PM
PioneerCountry

The closest we seem to come to Euro racing in North America has to be the Canadian International at Woodbine. Best turf course in NA.- it's 1 1/2miles long, horses break right in front of you for the race. And although it's 'only' 1 1/2 miles, it seems longer with the huge long stretch. One of the most exciting races you'll ever see in person with great Euro horses coming over for it.  Steve, it's time you dusted off that passport & come to Woodbine.

23 Jun 2014 1:13 PM
Windolin

Totally agree with you Steve. The Royal Ascot races at these longer distances on turf by the "stayers" are gaining my respect over our Triple Crown seripecial shoutout to Hootenanny and Verazanno for their races.

23 Jun 2014 1:15 PM
Windolin

PS...we are trying to bring horse racing to Georgia. Would not longer races on turf be a goal?

23 Jun 2014 1:17 PM
Virgil

Bravo.

23 Jun 2014 2:30 PM
Tommyboomer

Thanks Steve, I never fail to learn from your articles.

23 Jun 2014 2:49 PM
chucky

I will say it again. This industry decline and it's continue decline could be all traced to the breeding for quarterhorses wannabes and milers.

Sprinters and milers are NOT THOROUGHBREDS regardless of what the breeders wants to promote. PERIOD

23 Jun 2014 3:07 PM
Margaret Ann

I watched Calidoscopio win the Brooklyn and was on my feet cheering him on, as he came down the stretch.  My husband thinks I am nuts, he is not a horse person, I love him anyhow.  I have never understood why distance races are disappearing, they have always been the most interesting.  The horses just, grander.  Yeats, John's Call, Cetaweyo, Sword Dancer.  Miss them.

23 Jun 2014 3:18 PM
Terry M.

I agree completely! American racing has no use for stayers, those stout, sound horses that can race 1-1/2 to 3 miles and never quit, the horses with stamina and guts. Big mistake. Those long races are so exciting! The sprints? Blink and it's over. All the big races for stayers have been cut back and cut back in distance until they have become mere shadows of what they once were. Bring back the long races! That's what the Thoroughbred was originally created for! If you want real sprinters, race Quarter Horses. To call the BC Marathon a "marathon" when it is well under two miles is a joke.

23 Jun 2014 3:43 PM
Gin

Fantastically written!  A shame in this country we don't concentrate on the all mighty stayer.  I hate how we've ruined the TB. The need for speed is garbage.  Too many health issues with the pounding on their legs. On dirt to boot.  

Calidoscopio was alot of fun, Thanks Aaron for your great rides on him!

We will never see another TC winner we have screwed up how the TB is supposed to be, with lighter bones all for the need for speed. Sick sick sick.

I hope Steve that these tracks do keep their marathon races, even if no more marathon at the BC.  Maybe another track will host a marathon race, or gee they make the JCGC 2 miles again! I know nice dream. But always hopeful!

23 Jun 2014 5:05 PM
Davids

Steve, I am re-reading all the books on the great horses of the 60s and 70s, Damascus at present :), and you simply can not equate those horses, those races with racing of the present time.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is still my favourite race of the year but even that great race has lost its glory and is tarnished a bit(sic).  You try not to live in the past but sometimes...

23 Jun 2014 5:25 PM
Bethany Loftis

Wonderful article! Thank you so much! Royal Ascot and Longchamp are on the bucket list :)

This is slightly off topic - It seems more stallions with potential are being shuttled and exported this year than previous years. I'm curious why more foreign stallions aren't imported or shuttled, like the stories I've read of Bull Hancock, for the northern hemisphere breeding season. Are our quarantine procedures too strict and costly? Is there no market demand for these stallions? Those lines seem to be flooded with stamina and durability, and in my eyes would help "strengthen" our breed. I really wish an ambitious breeder would take a chance. It may take a few years to notice a change, or to find the right combination, but hey! Worth a shot! I just wish I had the cash :)

I also believe foreign training styles also contribute to their horses', not just thoroughbreds, soundness and stamina. I feel we as owners, horsemen, as well as horse lovers could learn something from them.

23 Jun 2014 6:38 PM
Paula Higgins

Really interesting comments here and ITA completely. Is there ANYONE in this country breeding for stamina and distance? To the poster who noted the Brits let their horses run over hill and dale, you are right. We need to do more of that ourselves. There is nothing wrong with milers but you need more than that to sustain a sport.

23 Jun 2014 8:29 PM
lam1970

Excellent article, Mr. Haskins!! You make a tremendously important point...American racing is purposely discarding stamina and the "stayer" quality in the Thoroughbred. In my opinion, THIS is what is wrong with racing in this country! We have continually bred out stamina in favor of speed and the trickle down from that is that races get shorter and the gallant horses who can run all day are not getting the opportunity to do so. This is one reason why we've had no Triple Crown in now 37 years and the Breeders Cup has chosen to eliminate a very fan popular race. A more positive spin on this is that we do have horses (both stallions and mares) who have pedigrees that contain more stamina influences and aren't watered down with sprinters. (Nothing wrong with sprinters.. I love them, but we have so many.) It may take some time, but we need to breed stamina and staying power back into the breed! It can be done, the American breeder just needs to latch onto the idea and then perhaps we can see these incredible feats of strength and endurance again. Okay, off my soapbox.

23 Jun 2014 10:00 PM
sceptre

Nothing sinister going on here, rather it's essentially the natural progression of things. The breed has gradually become ever more homogeneous-that's what's supposed to happen in the process of selective breeding, and the Miler was, long ago, chosen as the object of selection. We (here in America) were well in the process of being the center for producing the World's elite milers-their ultra-brilliance at a mile would enable them to defeat most others at distances as far as even 12 furlongs. We almost got there, as evidenced by the American bred dominance in Europe during the 70s-80s. What went wrong (or sort of wrong)? Well, for one we lost the majority of our elite breed-to-race stables. Two, the Europeans, etc. caught on, our racing economy fluctuated, and they came in and bought off many of our best bred mares, and younger stock. As a result, back here in the U.S. our elite became ever more less elite and, as a group, being less elite meant a lessened ability for distance versatility (see a Buckpasser as example of distance versatility). Instead of the vast majority of great bloodlines being located within one country/one continent, they were diluted here and across the ocean (and there, chiefly turf). This isn't the whole answer, and there's a lot more to be told even re-this point; but you have a taste.

And, by the way; the stayers didn't steal the show. Had Queen Elizabeth's horse not been in the Ascot Gold Cup, the field would have produced little interest- just as the fields for the Breeders Cup Marathons caused little interest-not due to the races' distance, but rather because of the lack of quality participants...Look. I'd love racing to be what it was back in the 60's, even 50's, perhaps 70's, but it's difficult to affix any real blame for what has transpired.  

24 Jun 2014 12:20 AM
Deltalady

Wonderful retrospective and echo your thoughts completely. You cite two of my favorite ever races, Calidoscopio's BC Marathon in 2012 and his Brooklyn in 2013.  The Stayers are one of the reasons I follow racing in Great Britain, and also Australia and France.  In 2012 Royal Ascot, amid the hoopla of Frankel, Black Caviar, and So You Think, SIMENON almost got lost in the shuffle. His amazing and brilliant back to back wins in 4 days at Ascot were by a total of 13 lengths, at distances hard to comprehend in the U.S. Simenon won the 2 ½-mile Ascot Stakes on June 19 and the 2 5/8-mile Queen Alexandra Stakes four days later on June 23. Here's how you summed up that amazing 2012 Royal Ascot:  "Once in a while you will find a year like 2012, when great racing is mixed in with great drama to titillate the fancy. But never before can I remember so many fascinating subplots, highlighted by The Queen winning her own Vase, one of the most controversial rides in decades, an amazing exhibition of durability and staying power, four contest winners taking home a grade II prize, and two equine legends destined to take their place among of the pantheon of greats."

"How much more can you ask for sprawled out on a couch in your pajamas?"

Amen!

24 Jun 2014 9:14 AM
Jean in Chicago

I agree with everybody else here who would like to see distance runners.  Not necessarily 4mi races because I'm not sure the average American attention span would last that long, but certainly 2mi races.  After all, thoroughbreds were developed from Arabians (still the most successful endurance horses) and British mares.

And, Steve, thank you again for all your insights.  Its because of your sincere love of the 4-legged ones that you attract such a good group of caring 2-legged ones.  We may not always agree about the best way to train or race them, but I think we all care very much about their welfare.

24 Jun 2014 11:39 AM
Deltalady

Another reason to like the longer route races -- 1 1/2 mi+ -- horses don't have to come out of the gate like sprinters do.  They can slowly warm up and build up to the longer distance, and I truly believe this is safer and healthier for horses.  All of the Hunt races are marathons and super marathons, and I have yet to see or even read where a horse bled during one of these types of races.  The stayers are always "dead fit", conditioned to go these distances, it really is a joy to watch these remarkable horses do what they have been bred to do for centuries. There was nothing more beautiful and thrilling than watching Makybe Diva win that third Melbourne Cup, a 2-mile test of stamina that "stops a nation". Of course, your mention of the great Yeats brings chills thinking of his accomplishments, who truly may be the greatest stayer of all time.

24 Jun 2014 4:28 PM
mz

I am going nuts with work right now but I still need to stop, take a deep breath, and thank you, Steve for this blog.  I love stayers and staying races (yeah, I am one of the dinosaurs still mourning the chopping of the distance of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the CCA Oaks - never mind the "dumbing down" of other races beyond a mile!)

I agree with everyone else here that loved the Marathon.  I thought it was a step in the right direction and always entertaining for me.

Happy Canada Day to all Cdns here.

Happy America Day / 4th of July to all non-Cdns here.

24 Jun 2014 5:39 PM
Quinnbit

Sceptre; 24 Jun 2014 12:20 AM

If there really is need to affix blame on the lack of stamina in today's US Thoroughbreds we need to look no further back than 1980 when an ex quarter horse trainer moved to Thoroughbreds. He single-handedly changed the game as speed became king and Thoroughbreds were turned into "quarter horses" that could get a mile and a half. Ten more or so years down the road along comes another ex quarter horse trainer. Same tactics, same results.

The Thoroughbred breed will never be the same in the US thanks to these two.

25 Jun 2014 11:41 AM
chucky

The truly great thoroughbreds of the past will never be bred again a good example of this was Forego

Sprint, Handicap and Horse of the Year award winner in 1974. A great sprinter, miler and stayer. and carried weight in true handicap races unlike today where the handicap races are in name only.

Too many hype specialist horses today from Frankel who is basically a miler to sprinters like Black Caviar. But true thoroughbreds like Forego or Sea The Stars are rarer.  

25 Jun 2014 3:18 PM
Old Old Cat

I would think the big breeders would love to have a few real Marathons or even a series run in the U.S. on the TURF (of course) to showcase the offspring of their vaunted stallions running without LASIX.  That would be perfect to rekindle the flames of American breeding accross all the oceans and hemispheres.  They could call it the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS.  They could call the series:  "The Breeders Cup Championship Series".  Unless, of course, if that name is already used for something of less importance.

25 Jun 2014 3:36 PM
tjconway

This is what makes Thoroughbred racing so great. Distance-weight-competition-bloodlines-tracks-conditions-etc.

I gotta believe if Frankel faced John Henry in Canada at 1 1/8,under equal weights,on the turf,John Henry would beat him by a nose!!!!! This is a compliment to Frankel!!!!!!!!!

25 Jun 2014 8:35 PM
longtimeracingfan

Fully agree, Steve, and having watched Yeats' fourth Gold Cup victory, when he was supposedly too old and past his prime, was a big thrill for me. Last I heard of him he had been standing to National Hunt mares (popularly) for the first year or two, but there was a demand for him to stand for the standard TB mares so he was brought back. Would love to hear any updates on him.

I don't suppose anyone remembers anymore, or maybe I should say realizes, that in the early days of racing they DID run 4 miles, and not only that, they ran heats--- two or three wins or placements deciding the winners. So a horse might run -- or more properly gallop -- 8-12 miles before the outcome was determined for the day.

Breeding for stamina and offering races here that truly DO require stamina--- in this day and age seems like a really novel idea.... sadly.  

Having walked the undulating course at Epsom where they run the Derby (and the Oaks the day before, BOTH at 1 1/2 miles) I have a huge amount of respect for the ability, courage, training, and bloodlines of the European Thoroughbred, though they really do have a lot of American blood over there. Training methods, opportunities, variety among courses, and racing surface all make for a more interesting and exciting racing game over there...

On the other hand, we here Stateside can watch dozens of races every day, from all over the country, all (nearly all) on dirt ovals with little variation; and because a sprint race takes less time to run, we can cram in 2 or more extra races so the tracks and bookmakers can make more money. Nothing against the tracks (except the sorts of races they card) or bookmakers (it's a free country and one does not have to bet ---gasp--- to enjoy a day at the races). We are talking apples and oranges here, but wow, sometimes you can come up with a truly great fruit compote!!! Why NOT races of 1.5 miles and above? As someone noted, longer races tend to have slower breaks from the gate and because the horses are fitter to begin with, less bleeding??

What's wrong with THAT??

Hmmm.... just had an interesting thought... because of the way Art Sherman has trained him, when California Chrome comes back as a 4 year old (as we have been told he probably will), wouldn't it be great to see him train on the turf and then go over to Royal Ascot next year... maybe he could be the trend turner...

Just sayin'.....

27 Jun 2014 3:04 PM
Joel Sandorf

I think the BC should add a 1 1/2 mile dirt race and a 2 mile turf race.  I think both of these would be better supported than the 1 3/4 mile dirt Marathon.  There are a ton of 2 mile grass horses in Europe and some in the US willing to try, plus more US trainers might be willing to try 1 1/2 on the dirt plus some Euros who have 12 furlong horses that aren't quite good enough for the BC Turf might take a shot at a 12F dirt race.

27 Jun 2014 7:07 PM
RAFritz

Yeats must be remarkable, because I remember Sagaro and he was awesome. Sagaro was also one of the most impressive horses, visually--a very light chestnut, almost blond.

29 Jun 2014 11:31 AM
Needler in Virginia

Steve, I understand about the sadness you feel about the news that the "marathon" is a thing of the past. I loved Kelso and Sagaro, and miss the excitement I felt watching them flying at the finish. My allegiance has almost entirely shifted to the Irish and UK horses these days. We have no more heroes here. But, these days, one of mine is Simenon, the not-so-wonderful "chaser who was retired from the jumps and "tried on the flat"...... only to win the Ascot Stakes (2m 5 1/2 f) on the Tuesday last year, and then was run back on Saturday to win the Queen Alexandra (2 m 4 f). Both times he won from fairly far back and with flying open finishes. He ran again this year, but did not fare so well...I think he finished 4th. But your point is well made and should be well taken. Running is what these guys do and clearly, they love doing it; even the slow ones like to run, they just like doing it with time to smell the flowers, too. The US focus on speed is putting our races into a very narrow box, bracketed at one end by 5 furlong races and at the other with a "classic" distance of 1 1/4 miles. WHOSE classic? OURS? Sad, sad, sad. Now we won't even have a chance of seeing one of these titans step onto an American track and we're the poorer for that.

As an aside, considering the races from Ireland and France this weekend, Galileo had a fairly good showing for a sire, don't you think? We already know what a good sire Galileo is, but GOOD GRIEF! 2 G1 winners, 2 G1 places, 1 show in a G1 and that's just in 2 races.......both at a mile and a half. Lucky them!

Safe trips.

29 Jun 2014 11:42 PM
Glorious Goodwood

The Marathon was such a lousy name for the race. The race should have been on Turf, 2 miles, and named the BC Gold Cup. I saw Yeats' 3rd Gold cup win, and it was such a popular win, and a privilege to watch.  

06 Jul 2014 3:30 PM

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