Can Da Big Hoss Stretch Out in the Belmont Gold Cup?

Can Da Big Hoss Stretch Out in the Belmont Gold Cup?

Coady Photography

As a big fan of long-distance races, I eagerly anticipated the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup Invitational every year, and the 2016 renewal has not disappointed–it’s drawn a wide-open field of thirteen starters, and looks like a very challenging race to handicap. Only two horses in the race have ever run this far before, making it tricky to project which runners will handle the marathon distance.

The morning line favorite at 3-1 is Da Big Hoss, and I think he looks like a great choice. His pedigree (by Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid out of a mare by Touch Gold, another Belmont Stakes winner) is filled with stamina, and Da Big Hoss has been highly successful in races at 1 1/2 miles or longer, winning the John’s Call Stakes at 13 furlongs and the Kentucky Turf Cup (gr. III), John B. Conally Turf Stakes (gr. III), and Elkhorn Stakes (gr. II) at 12 furlongs. With a nice blend of tactical speed and ability to finish strongly, I think he can position himself within striking range early on and kick on in the final two furlongs to triumph. He will also have the top turf jockey Florent Geroux in the saddle, and I like that Geroux has shown a lot of initiative in recent long-distance turf races, winning the Keertana Stakes with an excellent ride aboard Al’s Gal and giving longshot Brandybend every chance to win the 15.5-furlong Belmont Coronation Invitational Stakes earlier today. Even though he’s the favorite, Da Big Hoss is my choice to win.


His biggest challenge could come from the European shipper Now We Can, who was a very capable long-distance runner in France throughout 2013 and 2014, winning the 1 1/2-mile Grand Prix de Chantilly (Fr-II) and finishing only 6 1/4 lengths back at the end of the two-mile Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-II) in Dubai. He was sidelined in June 2014 and didn’t race again until March of this year, but has come back in solid form and was beaten just a neck in the 1 1/2-mile Prix Bedel at Lyon-Parilly on May 12th. He’s getting old–he turned seven this year–but with his powerful German pedigree and proven ability at long distances, he’s a major candidate to win in the event that Da Big Hoss finds two miles to be beyond his best range.

If you’re looking for a big longshot, Rum Tum TuggerSilver Lime, and Tobias are three to consider. They all ran in the 1 1/2-mile Secretariat Stakes over a soft course at Great Meadow on May 7th, and Great Meadow–a challenging course better known for its steeplechase, hurdle, and timber races–is a solid test of stamina, especially since all three horses carried 151 pounds that day. Silver Lime is particularly intriguing, as he won going 1 3/4 miles at Ascot racecourse in Great Britain and has faced some very good horses in his four U.S. races, two of them at distances well short of his best. I’ve got a gut feeling that Silver Lime is ready for a big run and will hit the board at a big price.

Good luck to all, and enjoy the race!

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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