ELMONT, NY – Her Majesty, The Queen’s homebred Call To Mind gave a royal performance on Friday, outlasting seven other brave horses that dared to take him on in the Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Stakes.
Breaking well along the rail under Javier Castellano as the 9-5 favorite, Call To Mind rated close behind Postulation through early splits of :50.74 and 1:40.49 for the opening mile. Tipping out a path, Call To Mind slowly worked his way to the lead along the backside while still in hand. Given the cue as he straightened for home, Call To Mind held sway the length of the stretch to win by a solid length in a final time of 3:16.78 for the 2-mile marathon over Widener turf course. The time was a new course record, breaking the previous mark of 3:17.29 that Da Big Hoss set in the 2016 edition.
“It was a perfect trip,” Castellano said. “I like the way he did it today. It’s 2 miles. European horses, you need to cover up a little bit and let them finish. I like the way he finished. Very impressive. I’m very grateful to ride these type of horses.”
Fellow European invaders Canessar and Prince of Arran crossed in second and third, respectively, with only a neck separating them. Rocketry was close behind in fourth, missing the board by only 3/4 of a length. Much farther back, Funny Kid took fifth by a head over Nessy, with Cooptado and a spent Postulation completing the order of finish. Focus Group and Run Time completed the order of finish.
Call To Mind’s victory was first of the year and third overall, improving his record to 9-3-1-3 for trainer William Haggas. The 4-year-old son of the great European stallion Galileo was making his North American debut after his connections could not find something suitable on his own continent.
“We knew this was the kindest track in America, being such a lovely turf course and so well-looked-after,” said John Warren, the racing manager for Her Majesty, The Queen. “That was always the focus of the mind, to make sure to look after the horse to make sure he was going to run over a good track. He’s a horse at home that fits in a Group 2-level caliber and there aren’t many Group 2-level races written. When looking over the program, this was the perfect race. Although he’d never run over 2 miles, he’s run his best race at a mile and 7/8. So, we felt that this trip is something that we could latch onto. What makes a mockery of his breeding is that his dam (Memory, by Danehill Dancer) was a brilliant 6-furlong mare. And she’s bred a brilliant 2-year-old that hasn’t gone beyond 7 furlongs. So that’s what makes us keep guessing and The Queen gets so much pleasure out of this.”
Call To Mind returned $5.60 to win, $4.10 to place, and $3.20 to show. Canessar brought back $7 to place and $5 to show, while Prince of Arran paid $5.70 to show.