The Brooklyn Handicap

Three races of note at Belmont Saturday.

Uncommonly for Belmont, the first race is a steeplechase (or “hurdle,” as it’s called by NYRA). It’s the inaugural (I’m not sure that I’ve ever been at an inaugural race of any sort) running of the two-and-a-half mile Lonesome Glory Steeplechase Stakes. Lonesome Glory won five Eclipse Awards as champion steeplechaser between 1992 and 1999.

In contrast to this inaugural race, the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap was first run in 1887, eleven years before the City of Brooklyn became a borough of the City of New York. From the New York Racing Association website: “Brooklyn and Manhattan were rival commercial centers before the two merged to form the modern-day New York City in 1898. Brooklyn was first settled by the Dutch in 1636 and named ‘Breucklen’ (Dutch for ‘marshland’) after a town in Holland. Among the principal attractions in Brooklyn are the New York Aquarium, Coney Island, Fort Hamilton and Prospect Park. [Strikes me as rather odd that the Brooklyn Bridge is not noted here.] At one time, Brooklyn had its own major league baseball team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, winners of the 1955 World Series. It is also said that one in every four Americans has some form of connection with Brooklyn.” Today, one finds professional baseball in Brooklyn on Coney Island, in the Brooklyn Cyclones. Unfortunately, Brooklyn no longer has a racetrack, but Aqueduct lies just beyond its borders in Queens.

Last year Nick Zito’s Wanderin Boy, second in the Whitney, won this race; Limehouse won it the year before that. Other notable winners: Albert the Great (2001), Lemon Drop Kid (2000), Devil His Due (1994), and Forego in 1974, 1975, and 1976. A complete list of winners is at the link above. Entered in Saturday’s race are Any Given Saturday (winner of the Haskell, third in the Wood Memorial), Sightseeing (third in the Jim Dandy, second to Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Wood Memorial, and fourth in the Travers), Tasteyville, Helsinki (Nick Zito’s second entrant in the Travers), and Awesome Twist. It’s a disappointingly small field, but with bigger money elsewhere (the race is worth $150,000, while both the Super Derby at Louisana Downs and the MassCap at Suffolk Downs are worth $500,000 ), you can understand why horses went elsewhere. One of New York’s favorite horses, Evening Attire, will be running at Suffolk—here’s hoping that he actually decides to break with the rest of the horses this time.

The Grade II Gallant Bloom will be run just before the Brooklyn. This is a fairly new race, first run in 1994, named for the two-year-old filly champion in 1968. Only five horses are entered here as well: Great Intentions, Pussycat Doll, Cuaba, Jazzy, and Princess Janie. This Grade II sprint is also worth $150,000. In 2000 the race was won by Dream Supreme, dam of Hopeful winner Majestic Warrior.

‘Member how last week I said that I probably wouldn’t go to the races this weekend? Scratch that. Full report to follow, and wish me luck.

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