On this day in 1974, Frank Whiteley saddled a dark bay two-year-old filly for an unheralded debut. Ruffian was sent off at 9-2 odds… she would never go off above even money again. In one of the most impressive debuts of all time, Ruffian equaled the track record while dominating the race by fifteen lengths. The unparalleled filly is shown here winning her second start, the Fashion, also at Belmont. It was another commanding victory in an equally fast time.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb breezed a half-mile in a seemingly effortless 47.18 seconds Monday morning at Belmont Park in his final serious work for the next leg of racing’s Triple Crown, Saturday’s Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.
Afterward, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said the move gave him “cold chills” and said he thought it was even more impressive than Orb’s final work at Churchill Downs.
Orb breezes at Belmont Park
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey discusses Orb’s work
Off to Pimlico!
“Gregarious” seems like an apt word to describe Kentucky Derby winner Orb. The bay colt is quick to greet visitors and is always curious to see if they’ve brought him any goodies.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb was out for a stroll this afternoon at the Shug McGaughey barn. It is typical of his trainees to get out for a walk or to graze prior to feed time each day. Today was the first day that the star colt went to the track since his exciting Churchill Downs win. Check out the video below for some footage of how his jog went. The video, in which he’s accompanied by his pony buddy, Wellie, includes thoughts from McGaughey.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb has arrived safely at trainer Shug McGaughey’s Belmont Park barn! The colt, who spent much of last year here, was accompanied by stablemates Point of Entry, Hymn Book, Hungry Island, and Air Support among others.
Did you know that thirteen of the nineteen horses in today’s Kentucky Derby have run in New York? Check out the impressive roster, in order of points earned on the Derby trail. Amazingly, five of the entrants broke their maiden at Aqueduct alone! Go For Gin is the last Kentucky Derby winner to collect their first lifetime score at the Big A. Interestingly, that Derby was also run on a sloppy track.
On this day in 1905, Belmont Park opened for the first time. August Belmont II and William C. Whitney, who set out to build the most elaborate track in America, found a suitable tract of land originally known as Foster’s Meadow. Located on the border of Queens and Nassau Counties, opening day caused the first traffic jam in Long Island history. Over 40,000 fans turned out for a card that included stars like Sysonby and Beldame.
It’s Kentucky Oaks Day! We’re proud to have seen four of the top contenders for the prestigious race here in New York.
That group is topped by the race’s favorite, Dreaming of Julia. She’s been sensational in her three local starts. A terrific maiden score at Saratoga, landed her on New York Watch. She followed that up with an effortless romp in the Meadow Star at Belmont. However, it’s her epic battle with My Happy Face in the G1 Frizette that we remember the most. It was a thrilling performance by talented pair of fillies.
Undefeated Unlimited Budget was two-for-two at Aqueduct in the fall. Much like her stablemate, a good-looking debut landed her a spot on our New York Watch list. She came right back to defeat future G1 winner Emollient in the G2 Demoiselle.
With Dreaming of Julia running in Florida and Unlimited Budget taking care of business in New Orleans, trainer Todd Pletcher was still well-represented over the winter at Aqueduct. He left Princess of Sylmar with his Belmont string and was rewarded with three romping victories. Her wins, which came by a combined 19 3/4 lengths, culminated with a 7 length romp in the Busher.
The lone Oaks contender we saw that doesn’t hail from the Pletcher barn is Close Hatches. The unbeaten dark bay filly is trained by locally based Hall of Famer Bill Mott. She shipped into Aqueduct after a winter in Florida for the G2 Gazelle. Facing off against Princess of Sylmar, Close Hatches went to the front and coasted home.
Twenty nine years ago today, Personal Ensign entered the world. The bay filly would compile a legendary resume on the track. In thirteen races, she went to the winners’ circle thirteen times, including for the G1 Shuvee, shown here. The Ogden Phipps homebred was the whole package, turning out a series of top-class runners for the family and their longtime trainer, Shug McGaughey. Miner’s Mark, Traditionally, and My Flag were all Grade 1 winners, while Our Emblem was placed in multiple G1 races. Her legacy continues to be felt - Our Emblem sired War Emblem, My Flag turned out Storm Flag Flying, Title Seeker produced Seeking the Title, etc.
Congratulations to the 2013 Hall of Fame Class! Calvin Borel, Housebuster, Invasor, and Lure will be joined by steeplechasers McDynamo and Tuscalee. We’re thrilled to have seen so much of the flat racing representatives here in New York.
If you’ve won three Kentucky Derbies, it’s pretty hard to be more closely associated with a horse who didn’t wear the roses than one who did. Calvin Borel, however, is proof that it’s possible. In addition to piloting Street Sense, Mine That Bird, and Super Saver to Derby glory, he was the regular rider for Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. He guided the fleet filly to memorable victories in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park and Woodward at Saratoga. He’s also picked up wins in the Jim Dandy, Travers, Alabama, and Sword Dancer.
Calvin Borel & Rachel Alexandra take the 2009 Woodward (G1)
Brilliant Housebuster was as quick as they come. The two-time champion sprinter won fifteen of his twenty two lifetime starts. His list of victories includes the major sprint races on the circuit - the Carter, Forego, and Vosburgh. As a three-year-old, he finished just a neck behind Criminal Type in the Metropolitan Handicap, putting him ahead of third-place finisher Easy Goer. Belmont Park served as the sight of Housebuster’s first G1 score - the 1 mile Jerome. In a dominant performance, he roared to a thirteen length win while giving twelve pounds to the runner-up.
Housebuster scores in the 1991 Carter (G1)
Invasor came to the United States with nothing but question marks. The Argentinian-bred had established himself as a legend in Uruguay where he swept the Triple Crown. Since then, however, he had been soundly defeated in the UAE Derby. He would never be beaten again. Based out of Kiaran McLaughlin’s Belmont Park barn, Invasor won a quartet of G1 races during his Horse of the Year campaign. Among them were the Suburban and Whitney. The following year, he avenged his lone loss with a victory in the Dubai World Cup.
Invasor narrowly prevails in the Whitney (G1)
Any list of America’s best horses to never be named champion routinely turns up the name Lure. The brilliant mid-distance specialist started out as a quality dirt horse for New York-based Shug McGaughey. He took off when switched to the lawn in September of his three-year-old year. The two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile also won races like the Daryl’s Joy, Kelso, and Bernard Baruch.
Lure & Devil His Due battle in a memorable Gotham (G2)
Lure defeats rival Paradise Creek in the Bernard Baruch (G2)