Turfmen Recognize Belmont Top Event of American Cards

Damon Runyon

Reading Times/June 7, 1935

NEW YORK, June 5

HERE in New York, the largest city in the United States, a horse race that many turfman say is the most important race on the American turf will be decided Saturday—the Belmont Stakes.

It will bring out the crack three-year-olds of the east. It has a value of $50,000 in money, which is greater than the Kentucky Derby, or the Preakness. It is a race rich in tradition. It goes back to 1867. It has been won by equine immortals like Sar Barton, Man o’ War, Grey Lag, Zev, American Flag, Blue Larkspur, Crusader, Twenty Grand, and Gallant Fox.

Yet, oddly enough, it attracts little of the attention that is bestowed upon the Derby or the Preakness. It will draw perhaps 30,000 spectators at Belmont Park Saturday afternoon, as against the 75,000 for the Derby in Louisville, and the 45,000 at Pimlico, in Maryland.

It will get perhaps a column and a half in the New York newspapers, and maybe half a column in the larger papers outside New York. The Derby is worth several columns in New York, and whole supplements in its home town.

BELMONT is large, Belmont is beautiful, Belmont is very, very fashionable, and in this last word we may find the answer to the lack of interest in Belmont on the part of the proletariat.

But that does not fully explain why a great race like the Belmont does not attract at least about a tenth of what is bestowed on the Derby and the Preakness, especially when you consider that half the field that goes on Saturday is made up of horses that came out of the Derby and the Preakness.

OMAHA, winner of both those stakes, is among them, also Whiskolo, third in the Derby, and Firethorn, second in the Preakness. Psychic Bid and Plat Eye are Derby and Preakness horses.

Then we have Rosemont, conqueror of the mighty Omaha at a mile, and there is a hook-up that alone ought to make the Belmont the greatest racing attraction of the day. The Belmont is at a mile and a half, which horsemen say is the distance that determines a real route runner in these times, and you would think the racing public would be very eager to see if Rosemont can carry his speed far enough to again whip the current king of Belair.

Omaha is sure to be favorite. The writer quotes the sprightly New York Press’ advance line in putting Omaha at even money, with Rosemont at 3 to 1. Psychic Bid, Plat Eye, Gillie, Firethorn, Whiskolo, Tweedledee, Esposa and Cold Shoulder, mentioned as other probable starters, are all the way from 8 to 50 to 1, this last price being suggested against Esposa and young Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt’s Cold Shoulder.

The writer would think Whiskolo, if he starts, might be dangerous at the distance. He can go “a fur piece,” as we say in the Everglades.

OMAHA’S paw, Gallant Fox, won the Belmont and $66,040 in 1930. That was top money for the race. Man o’ War, in 1920, won only $7,950.

In the 88 years of the Belmont, and the 60 years of the Derby, and the 62 years of the Preakness, the triple seems to have been tough to get.

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