8 June 2018
$400,000 Group 2 Belmont Gold Cup
Belmont Park, New York
2 miles on the Widener turf course
Post Time 22.46
Although just in its fifth running, the Belmont Gold Cup is fast becoming a fixture on the international racing calendar. German invader Red Cardinal grabbed victory last year before shipping to Australia for the Melbourne Cup. The race also included the Willie Mullins’ trainees Wicklow Brave and Clondaw Warrior along with UK invaders St. Michel and Wall of Fire plus French representative Now We Can.
This year there are three Europeans heading to America: Funny Kid, Call To Mind and Prince Of Arran.
Funny Kid arrives from France 2 for 2 in 2018 with wins in the 16 furlong All-Weather Marathon Championship at Lingfield and the 15 furlong Group 3 Prix de Barbeville at ParisLongchamp. Trainer Christophe Ferland has turned Funny Kid into a marathon specialist and this race fits his strengths perfectly. It will likely be run at a slow pace with a torrid sprint to the wire. Last year Red Cardinal stormed home the final quarter mile in 22.55 seconds and I would expect the same this year on a course that should be good to firm. Funny Kid carries top weight of 121 lbs. due to the Group 3 win…which could be telling. Of note is the fact that Ferland has never won a race in America and French horses over the past 10+ years have an ROI of 0.75 their first runs in America.
Call To Mind represents The Queen and arguably ran a career best effort when third just a bit over three lengths behind Stradivarius (3s for the Ascot Gold Cup) in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup. Call To Mind never threatened to win, but did stay the 14 furlong trip and as a 4-year-old has plenty of room to develop. Trainer William Haggas has acquired the services of American champion jockey Javier Castellano who is well-acquainted with the Belmont Park turf course and has accumulated just short of 5,000 wins and over $303,000,000 in purse money. Call To Mind will be in receipt of 6 lbs. from Funny Kid and that may be the difference in the race. A reproduction of the Yorkshire Cup will win this race.
Prince Of Arran appears to be the weakest of the European trio. Although competing mainly at the top level he has acquired just a few wins in handicap races. The winter started off good for Prince of Arran in Dubai, but when the big races started later in the carnival his class just wasn’t enough to be truly competitive at the Group level. He appears to be overmatched here.
The American contingent is extremely weak in this year’s edition. Long-distance turf racing is typically not a strength and those who entered really don’t have much of a resume to offer. It will be a shock not to see either Call To Mind (and the royal colors) or Funny Kid in the winner’s circle. Call To Mind is the choice in a tight contest with a 6 pound pull in the weights (worth about three lengths at 16 furlongs) and the recent form through Stradivarius.