May 28th 2008 11:08 pm |
Rags to Riches capped off a memorable 2007 Triple Crown series by becoming the first filly to win the Belmont Stake in over 100 years. Harry Payne Whitney’s Tanya was the last filly to win in 1905. That race was historic for more then just Tanya’s victory it was also the first Belmont Stakes held at Belmont Park. Ironically, the first Belmont Stakes run at Jerome Park in 1867 was also won by a filly (Ruthless). Until Rags to Riches heart-pounding stretch run to beat the mighty Curlin, Tanya and Ruthless were the only other fillies to win the oldest of the Triple Crown races.
Belmont Stakes day in 1905 was the final day of the inaugural meeting at the track in Elmont, New York. As we saw in a recent post on Belmont’s opening day, opinion about the new track was less then stellar. At the end of the three week meet feelings about August Belmont’s “English” track had not changed. Here is how Frank Thorpe, the writer for the New York Evening World, wrote about “Big Sandy’s” closing day 1905:
“This was the eighteenth and last day of racing at Belmont Park and it was not noticeable that anyone shed tears of sorrow over the track of English institutions with all the English customs of racing the wrong way around the track. It is easy now for the racegoer to realize the definition of the words – ‘reverse English.’ They have had it here with a vengeance.
“It will actually be worth a dollar more to go to Gravesend where one will be able to see races without the aid of powerful magnifying glasses”
MY COMMENT: The writer is referring here to a recent decision by the Brooklyn Jockey Club to raise admission prices at Gravesend by one dollar. The price hike apparently was connected to the end of fees for bookmakers who had been paying $800,000 a year to the Jockey Club for the right to operate on-track. According to a writer at the time, this $800,000 would be paid by the ‘good sportsman’ who attended the races at Gravesend in Brooklyn.
“This being the last day some of the most interesting stakes were reserved for today. The Eclipse for two-year-olds, had a fine field of youngsters, and the Belmont had a very interesting field of three-year-olds. The Grand National Steeplechase, one of the richest jumping affairs of the year was also on the card. The weather was fine and the track was fast.“
The author continued with a description of each of the days races. The Belmont Stakes was the 4th of 5 races on the day:
“Belmont won by a neck
“Fourth Race – The Belmont: for three-year-olds: $10,000 added: mile and a quarter, Belmont Course. Start good. Won Driving. Time – 2:08 3/5“
“Tanya won the Belmont. This was the same Tanya who was beaten by Pasadena and Voladay the first time she faced the starters. She showed wonderful improvement. Tanya raced right to the front at the start and was soon joined by Wild Mint. These two raced away as if it were a dash, and soon opened up a gap on the field headed by Blandy and Hot Spot.
“They ran this way to the main stretch where Wild Mint stopped. Hot Shot and Brandy then set sail for Tanya and they gradually closed ground on even terms. Hot Shot then tired and Blandy went on after Tanya, finally forcing her to a hot drive in the last sixteenth to win by a neck. Blandy was four lengths away in third place”
While the writer from the World spilled more ink ragging on Belmont Park then the Belmont Stakes, the New York Times offered a more historically resonant piece on the actual race. Here is portion of that article from May 25, 1905:
“The Belmont stood out as the feature of the program, chiefly on account of its great value. The race was one worthy of the stakes, the oldest turf fixture of the East, for it brought about a hotly fought finish between Tanya, post favorite, and Blandy, winner of the Withers. Tanya, which made about all the running, living only just long enough to get home first by a short neck, with all the others of the field of seven beaten off. The only other filly that has won a Belmont Stakes being Ruthless, which captured the event on its first running at Jerome Park in 1867. Tanya rated the champion of her age and sex last season, was regarded with doubt by the betting general public when she was installed favorite, as in her only earlier race this season she was beaten badly by Pasadena and Voladay, but the horseman and the Harry Payne Whitney stable had every confidence in the filly to take up her weight and go the mile and quarter course, and she remained first choice though the betting odds of 2 to 1…”
Read the full article at New York Time archives
Next Week: Colin wins the Belmont
IN OTHER NEWS
Colin’s Ghost is now a proud member of the Thoroughbred Blogger’s Alliance. I encourage you to check out some of their other excellent blogs in the drop down menu at the top of the page or visit the TBA website. If it is racing history you like many of the members post on the history of the game. The Brooklyn Backstretch has done a number of excellent articles on the history of New York stakes races and other topics. The Superfecta blog recently posted a little history of the Preakness.
Sorry to hear about Nashoba’s Key…I really enjoyed watching her run.