Belmont Stakes Scheduled Today But Minus Bold Venture

Damon Runyon

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/June 6, 1936


NEW YORK, June 5.—(United Services)—Tomorrow is that big day down at Belmont Park, the day of the Belmont Stakes.

A few weeks ago it was shaping up as the greatest three-year-old race ever seen in America. Then Bold Venture, winner of the Kentucky derby and the Preakness, got knocked out, so now it’s ham and eggs without the ham.

A few weeks ago it looked as if the Belmont Stakes would decide the three-year-old championship of the United States. Now, by our reckoning, the champion, Bold Venture, is in retirement, therefore the Belmont will merely decide what our noble boxing commission would designate as contender No. 1.

Importance is Exaggerated

You are told by the turf writers that the Belmont is the most fashionable of all the three-year-old stakes, and the most valuable from the standpoint of the breeder of race horses. But it seems to us that its importance as a horse race is often exaggerated, because only too often by the time the Belmont rolls around many of the three-year-old tars of the earlier part of the season are flattened by racing adversity, and can’t start.

So the Belmont isn’t always a true championship test, and as a horse racing spectacle it is seldom up to the Preakness or the Derby. The field is generally small, because by Belmont time the owners and trainers know the caliber of their steeds well, and they aren’t trying to win the mile and a half with ordinary horses.

Some great American horses have won the Belmont. Occasionally something that you haven’t heard of before slides in, like Mr. Joseph E. Widener’s Hurryoff, but the roster of the race winners shows that it is generally won by a good horse.

Breed for Sprint Speed

The very conditions of the race make a good horse necessary to win it. A mile and a half is an unusually long race in this country, where, in pursuit of our improvement of the breed of horses, as the saying is, we breed for sprint speed, more than for endurance.

There is a movement on foot among track operators, notably M. Widener, to increase the number of distance races in the hope of encouraging what was once the fundamental idea in the breeding of thoroughbreds—endurance. But it will require a new generation of horses in the United states to get much of that quality. Our racing steeds are mainly non-stayers. We breed ’em in this country for gambling machines

The Belmont is older than the Kentucky Derby, which was first run in 1875. The Belmont goes back to 1867, which makes it 69 years old.

However, you must remember that the Derby has been run every year while there were a couple of recesses in the Belmont, due to one thing and another, including a brief abandonment of racing in New York state.

Started at Jerome Park

It originated at an old race course known as Jerome Park, and was at a mile and five-eighths. The first winner was a steed named Ruthless. From 1867 to 1889 the race was continued at Jerome Park, and then it was transferred to Morris Park. In 1904 it was moved to Belmont Park.

Man o’ War, Grey Lag, Pillory, Zev, Mad Play, American Flag, Crusader, Chance Shot, Vito, Blue Larkspur and Twenty Grand were among the winners of the Belmont in the past 16 years.

Maybe the Belmont winner of today will live to establish a dynasty of his own in the years to come. It ought to be a good race, as it will include the best of the three-year-olds that are out of the hospital, and it will probably draw more folks than Belmont Park has seen in many a day.

If something hasn’t happened to Brevity, he ought to win the race by about as far as you can throw a silver dollar. But you can’t tell about Brevity. Even his owner, Mr. Joseph E. Widener, has decided that it will be more fun watching his horse Fastnet run in the Grand Prix in Paris, and is leaving Brevity to his own devices today. Maybe Mr. Widener tired of making excuses for Brevity.

(Source: Google News,

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