Sidelines with John Clay

Long live the Queen! Her Majesty wins race at Belmont Park

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after opening The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey in London, Friday, June 8, 2018. Her horse Call To Mind won the Grade 2 Belmont Cup Invitational at Belmont Park in New York on Friday, as well.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after opening The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey in London, Friday, June 8, 2018. Her horse Call To Mind won the Grade 2 Belmont Cup Invitational at Belmont Park in New York on Friday, as well. Associated Press

Among the winners on Friday, the second day of the three-day Belmont Festival of Racing, was Her Majesty, the Queen.

Yes (or Yas), that's Queen Elizabeth II of England, owner of Call To Mind, who captured the Grade 2 $400,000 Belmont Cup Invitational on the turf course at Belmont Park.

Bred and owned by the queen, Call To Mind was making his North American debut and went off as the 9-5 favorite. Ridden by Javier Castellano, Call To Mind held off Canessar and fellow European invader Prince of Aram for the win.

Not only did Call To Mind win, he set a Belmont track record, covering the two-mile distance in 3:16.78, beating the 3:17.29 mark set by Da Big Hoss in the 2016 Belmont Gold Cup.

This was the first time the Queen has run a horse at Belmont Park since Dawn Glory finished third in a maiden special weight race on Oct. 26, 2012. That horse was trained by Christophe Clement.

By leading world sire Galileo, Call To Mind had not won since Aug. 26 of last year. He finished second in the Group 2 Qatar Prix, fourth in the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes and third in the Group 2 Mansionbet Yorkshire Cup in his last three races.

"He's a horse at home that fits in a Group 2-level caliber and there aren't many Group 2-level races written. When looking over the program, this was the perfect race," said John Warren, racing manager for The Queen, according to Belmont Park.

"Although he'd never run over two miles, he's run his best race at a mile and seven-eighths. So, we felt that this trip is something that we could latch onto. What makes a mockery of his breeding is that his dam [Memory, by Danehill Dancer] was a brilliant six-furlong mare. And she's bred a brilliant 2-year-old that hasn't gone beyond seven furlongs. So that's what makes us keep guessing and The Queen gets so much pleasure out of this."

Queen Elizabeth was not on hand Friday at Belmont, but she was at Keeneland for the inaugural running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes in 1984.

Saturday, the final day of the Belmont Festival, features the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in which Justify will attempt to be horse racing's 13th Triple Crown champion.

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