Jockey Club Gold Cup
The Jockey Club Gold Cup, established in 1919, is a thoroughbred flat race open to horses of either gender three-years-old and up. It is typically the main event of the fall meeting at Belmont Park, just as the Belmont Stakes is of the spring meeting and the Travers Stakes is of the summer meeting at Saratoga. The past winners of the Gold Cup are a veritable who's who of award-winning Hall of Fame horses, including Easy Goer, Man o' War, Cigar, Skip Away, Curlin, Slew o' Gold, John Henry, Affirmed, Forego, Shuvee, Damascus, Buckpasser, Kelso, Sword Dancer, Nashua, Citation, Whirlaway and War Admiral. Despite the current $1,000,000 purse and Grade 1 status, the stature of the race has suffered somewhat in recent years thanks to the emergence of the Breeders' Cup Classic held not long afterward, as well as a change in distance to 1 1⁄4 miles in 1990, reducing its distinctiveness.
|Grade I race|
Elmont, New York, United States
|Race type||Thoroughbred - Flat racing|
|Distance||1 1⁄4 miles (10 furlongs)|
|Qualification||Three-years-old and up|
|Purse||$750,000 (since 2017)|
Before it was known as the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it began as the Jockey Club Stakes. This was its name when Man o' War won it against the only horse willing to race him. Damask, owned by Harry Payne Whitney, was entered as a sporting gesture and to keep Man o' War from having to run alone in a "walkover." Damask finished 15 lengths behind with Man o' War held under strong restraint in order not to humiliate his rival. Even so, Man o' War broke the American record for a mile and a half.
Ten horses have won the race twice (including Hall of Fame horses Curlin, Skip Away, Slew o' Gold, Nashua and Triple Tiara winner, Shuvee). Only one horse in history has won the Cup five times, and that was the great gelding Kelso.
In the 1978 running, Exceller defeated the previous year's Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, by a nose in a memorable stretch duel, with the 1978 Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, finishing fifth after his saddle slipped. Sportswriter Bill Nack wrote, "Exceller won by the snip of his chocolate nose. ... That battling final furlong remains [Seattle Slew's] most enduring legacy as a racehorse."
From 1976 to 1989, the Jockey Club Gold Cup was run at 1 1⁄2 miles, but from 1921 through 1975 it was two miles (3.2 km) long, second in distance only to the less prestigious, 2 1⁄4-mile Display Handicap. From 1958 through 1974, except for 1962 and 1968, the race was held at Aqueduct Racetrack instead of Belmont.
Time record: (at current 1 1⁄4 miles)
- 1:58.89 - Skip Away (1997)
- 5 - Kelso (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
Most wins by an owner:
- 5 - Glen Riddle Farm (1919, 1920, 1925, 1926, 1938)
- 5 - Bohemia Stable (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
Most wins by a jockey:
- 10 - Eddie Arcaro (1935, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961)
Most wins by a trainer:
- 7 - Jim Fitzsimmons (1929, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1944, 1955, 1956)
- In 1927, Brown Bud finished first but was disqualified.
- Only two horses started in 1920.
- "Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes Profile". www.equibase.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2008-08-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Dwyre, Bill (16 September 2008). "Two horses do rare feat, then meet". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 October 2016.