In some graded stakes, historical trends reveal standout contenders

June 14th, 2023

Some races are dominated by a particular type of horse year after year, and bettors attuned to these trends have a better-than-average chance to cash nice payoffs.

The Belmont Gold Cup (G2) at Belmont Park is such a race. Held over the testing distance of two miles on turf, the Belmont Gold Cup is an anomaly on the U.S. racing scene. Two-mile marathons are highly uncommon in the U.S., whereas in Europe there’s a full-fledged marathon division packed with lucrative stakes races.

As a result, the Belmont Gold Cup is routinely dominated by European raiders. As of 2023, every Belmont Gold Cup since the race achieved graded status in 2017 has been won by a horse bred and trained in Europe.

In 2017, half a dozen Europeans made the trip to Belmont Park, led by two-mile Comer Group International Oleander-Rennen (G2) winner Red Cardinal, the 14-5 favorite.  At the conclusion of two miles, Red Cardinal led home a logical 1-2-3-4 finish for Europe, and the $2 superfecta paid $1,210.

In 2018, three more Europeans showed up for the Belmont Gold Cup, and 9-5 favorite Call To Mind—a winner racing 1 7/8 miles in the Prix Chaudenay (G2)—led the way home while fellow raider Prince of Arran finished third.

Three more overseas invaders contested the 2019 Belmont Gold Cup. Bettors favored a trio of American runners, but bettors attuned to the emerging trend of European dominance caught an enticing payoff when Amade—a three-time winner racing two miles or farther and the shortest-priced European at 6-1—beat favored Arklow by a neck. The $2 exacta returned a generous $58.

The Belmont Gold Cup wasn’t contested in 2020, but it was back on the calendar for 2021, when Baron Samedi started as the 13-10 favorite off a six-race win streak highlighted by a triumph in the 1 3/4-mile Vintage Crop (G3). He was the lone European in the field and ran to expectations, dominating by 2 3/4 lengths. Fantasioso and Ajourneytofreedom, the fourth and third choices in the betting, completed a $2 trifecta that paid $179.

The 2022 Belmont Gold Cup drew two Europeans, Loft and Outbox. The latter failed to fire while finishing seventh, but Loft rallied decisively to win by 3 1/4 lengths as the 27-10 second choice over a U.S.-based favorite. It’s a bit surprising to look back and realize Loft wasn’t favored, considering he arrived at Belmont Park off a victory in the two-mile Comer Group International 51st Oleander-Rennen (G2).

European dominance continued in the 2023 Belmont Gold Cup. Among the two European raiders, the overwhelming 0.85-1 favorite was Siskany, winner of the 1 3/4-mile Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) and runner-up by a neck in the two-mile Dubai Gold Cup (G2) during the winter in Dubai. His form lines towered over the Belmont Gold Cup field, and Siskany had no trouble pouncing from fifth place to beat third choice The Grey Wizard by two lengths. The $2 exacta paid $32.40 and the $2 trifecta yielded $659 after 59-1 longshot British Royalty (runner-up in the 2022 Belmont Gold Cup) finished third.

Year after year, the Belmont Gold Cup produces the same result: victory by the shortest-priced European in the field. Yet the payoffs are not infrequently generous. It perfectly illustrates the benefits gained by identifying graded stakes that consistently produce similar (and thus predictable) outcomes.