The Grey Wizard Spellbinding in G2 Belmont Gold Cup Score

June 7, 2024

The Gray Wizard (Susie Raisher)

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and The Estate of Albert Frassetto’s The Grey Wizard exited his hobbit-sized margin of victory in the Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup in fine shape, per trainer Graham Motion. Charging from last-to-first in Friday’s featured nightcap, he and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez proved that the opposition ‘shall not pass’ the wire before him in a thriller. Gandalf would be proud. 

“He looks really good, this morning. I’m very happy with him,” Motion said. “He scoped clean and he looks really well.”

A fourth career and first graded victory from 15 starts for the son of dual Group 1-winning sprinter Caravaggio – whose progeny rarely find their best efforts beyond one mile, much less two – the effort was a deigned shift back to agreeability for the mercurial sort and an improvement upon his excellent second in last year’s renewal.

“When he first came to us as a colt, he was quite ornery,” Motion explained. “He’s always been a little slow from the gate, but he’s gotten much better. When I ran him back first time this season at Keeneland, I couldn’t believe that he never got in the race. A – he’s quite opinionated and B – he really needs the two miles. That’s what he needs to kind of get in gear. It’s no coincidence his two best races have been in this race. It is unusual for [a Caravaggio] to run that far, but I’ve never had one before him. That’s intriguing. He’s an intriguing horse, for sure.”

Staying races and stamina-laden divisions are often some of the more popular in jurisdictions outside of the United States, but yesterday’s affair, which took 3:18.35 to be decided by a final stride and a short head, was quite the crowd-pleaser for its Saratoga audience.

“I wish they would [embrace longer races],” Motion said. “It seems we are getting further and further away from it. A mile and an eighth is a marathon and I find that very frustrating. Certainly, from our perspective, we get a lot of European horses who want to go farther and I think there’s a real lack of opportunity for those horses over here. If they’re good enough to run in graded races, there really aren’t many opportunities for them. I would love to see more incentives and opportunities because they’re exciting races. What could have been more exciting than that race yesterday? I had a lot of people saying, ‘what a fun race’ afterward.”

The Belmont Gold Cup appropriately offers a ‘Golden Ticket’ automatic berth into Australia’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse, carrying a purse of AUD$8.4 million. Over the same two-mile distance as Friday’s race, the world’s richest handicap is also contested over a left-handed, flat course.

Leigh Jordan, the Executive General Manager – Racing of Victoria Racing Club was in attendance Thursday at Saratoga along with race caller Matt Hill, who called the Belmont Gold Cup. The lucrative Melbourne Cup trophy was also onsite for fans to pose with and take pictures.

Motion said he will speak with Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners before making a decision on whether to travel and take part in ‘the race that stops a nation™.’

“I need to talk to Leigh about there being other incentives and I haven’t even spoken to Aron yet, but I’m as game as anyone with this kind of stuff,” Motion continued. “I think this horse is the right kind of horse to do it with, but it is a huge ask. I’m sure we will discuss it.

“I love the concept,” he concluded. “Yesterday was really cool to have [Victoria Racing Club] here, having the Melbourne Cup here and Matt Hill commentating it. It was really fun and a very different feel to it than usual.”

@PastTheWire Great race for the spot play!!! #membersmakemoney

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