ELMONT, NY – Australian Bloodstock’s Irish invader Red Cardinal took home the gold with a neck victory to lead an all-European superfecta in a distinctly international edition of Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational.
Ridden by Eduardo Pedroza, Red Cardinal settled in mid-pack as Roman Approval took the field of 13 through a sharp opening 1/2-mile in :47.76, drawing off by as much as 15 lengths as the field passed the wire for the first time. The leader slowed down the pace as they reached the clubhouse turn, covering 6 furlongs in 1:14 and a mile in 1:40.88. Red Cardinal patiently picked off rivals through the final turn and swept five-wide for home. He hit the lead with 1/8 of a mile to go, holding off a late challenge from British import St Michel to complete the turf route on firm ground in 3:18.79.
The win was the 5-year-old Montjeu gelding’s second straight at the Gold Cup’s 2-mile distance following his 1 1/4-length victory in the Group 2 Oleander-Rennen at Germany’s Hoppegarten Racetrack.
“My plan was to go in the middle of the field and let him be behind horses,” said Pedroza. “He was very relaxed. He gave me a good feeling all the way. He went very easy (and) was feeling very good today. I waited for a long time to ask my horse.
“The other horses looked like they were getting a little bit tired coming around the corner, and I said I would wait a little bit more so I could make the move,” he added. “I could do that because he has good acceleration. I asked him one time, and he came back and (I) waited a little bit more. The second time I asked, he went very easy. He has good acceleration, so he can do that.”
Red Cardinal didn’t debut until October of his 3-year-old year but has amassed five wins, three seconds, and a third from nine lifetime starts. Following the race, trainer Andreas Wohler said that the ultra-consistent runner’s long-term goal will be the Group 1 Melbourne Cup on November 7 at Flemington Racecourse in Australia.
“He started very late in his career and hasn’t had many races and keeps improving,” said Wohler. “He’s progressing, and we’re quite happy with where he is right now. The main target is that first Tuesday in November. He’ll probably have his next race in France. He then could race in Germany or in Australia itself. We want to give him a little break before he comes back. He’ll be fresh for the campaign then.”
French runner Now We Can, runner-up in last year’s Belmont Gold Cup, finished another 2 lengths back in third. Wicklow Brave, conditioned by Irish champion jump trainer Willie Mullins, checked in fourth.
Hunter O’Riley, Bullards Alley, Farz, Wall of Fire, Taghleeb, Clondaw Warrior, Roman Approval, and Renown completed the order of finish. Wayward Kitten was scratched.
Red Cardinal returned $7.60, $4.20, and $3.60. St Michel brought back $6 and $4.50, while Now We Can paid $6.80 to show.