Rare Sight: Queen’s Call To Mind Preparing For Start In Belmont Gold Cup

Racing fans at Belmont Park on Friday will be treated to a rare sight at American racetracks: the purple-and-scarlet colors of Her Majesty, The Queen.

Call To Mind, a 4-year-old owned and bred by Elizabeth II, figures prominently in the Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational, which will be contested at two miles on the Widener turf course. Trained by William Haggas, Call To Mind won the 2017 listed Goodwood Revival March Stakes and has placed in a pair of Group 2 events, including a third in his most recent outing, the Yorkshire Cup on May 18 at York.

Although Call To Mind has never competed at two miles before, his connections are confident he will relish the Belmont Gold Cup’s distance. His four most recent starts have come at distances ranging from 1 ½ to 1 7/8 miles.

“He went very well at York, beaten by quite a good horse of [John] Gosden’s called Stradivarius, who looks pretty smart,” said Haggas’ assistant Harry Eustace, who arrived from England last night. “We just felt that two miles will be his optimum trip. There wasn’t something for him until after Ascot. [NYRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin] Panza has done a good job putting on a race like this for decent money. It seemed like a good fit for him, and two miles should suit him well.”

While some Europeans struggle to adapt to the North American style of racing, Eustace believes Call To Mind will find himself at home going two miles over Belmont’s expansive turf course.

“I know from friends who took horses to Del Mar [for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup] that the draw and start is key, but going two miles it is slightly less of an issue,” said Eustace. “They all arrive fit, so it’s mostly about how they take the journey [to the United States]. He seems to have taken it really well. That’s the main thing.”

Eustace says Haggas typically trains eight to 10 horses for Queen Elizabeth II.

“We have a mixture of older horses and some nice 2-year-olds,” said Eustace. “The boss is very proud of the fact he trains for The Queen. We’re very privileged to train for Her Majesty. She is very passionate about her horses and racing. She’s very knowledgeable about her breeding and loves racing and horses as an animal, and, for her, they go hand in hand. Winning the [Belmont Gold Cup] would be very exciting, the day before the Triple Crown race. Winning on the big stage is great, but to do so for Her Majesty would be a massive thrill.”

Eustace is familiar with Belmont Park, having worked for Christophe Clement from 2014-17 and was present when Clement-trained Tonalist won the 2014 Belmont Stakes over California Chrome.

“I was lucky enough to be here when California Chrome was going for his Triple Crown bid,” said Eustace. “I know what sort of hype comes with it and the buzz and the atmosphere. It’s great to be a part of it, especially bringing a horse over for Her Majesty.”

Coincidentally, Clement trained for The Queen at various times between 1999 and 2014, winning the 2000 Grade 3 De La Rose at Gulfstream Park. The Queen’s most recent North American victory came in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance in 2008. Dartmouth, trained overseas by Sir Michael Stoute, carried the Queen’s colors to a second-place finish in the 2016 Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine.

Call To Mind jogged twice around the sloppy Belmont main track on Monday. The colt likely will gallop on the main track on Tuesday. Call To Mind and fellow Belmont Gold Cup entrant Prince of Arran have permission to gallop on the turf course at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

The post Rare Sight: Queen’s Call To Mind Preparing For Start In Belmont Gold Cup appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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