June 23, 2024

Siskany continues international dominance of Belmont Gold Cup

Siskany brought his international class to bear in the Belmont Gold Cup (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Collared late by Broome in the Dubai Gold Cup (G2) on World Cup night, Godolphin’s Siskany had no such rival to deny him in Friday’s $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup (G2). The Charlie Appleby trainee powered home to a two-length decision, becoming the sixth straight international shipper to plunder the marathon at Belmont Park.

Siskany was capping a big-race double for Godolphin, whose American homebred Pretty Mischievous captured the Acorn (G1), and for Darley sire Dubawi, also responsible for Peter Brant’s blistering Just a Game (G1) winner, In Italian.

Darley Europe’s Liam O’Rourke commented on Dubawi’s latest achievement.

“He’s just unbelievable – the horse of a lifetime,” O’Rourke said of the outstanding sire, himself a legacy from the only crop of ill-fated Dubai Millennium.

“We will probably never have another one like him. He’s been quite extraordinary and even had another very good two-year-old win today in the U.K., a first-timer (Ancient Wisdom at Haydock). We have an awful lot to look forward to.”

Siskany had raced once since his near-miss in Dubai, finishing fifth of six in the loaded Yorkshire Cup (G2) May 19. Appleby realized that Belmont was a more realistic target than Europe’s premier staying events, so the homebred gelding was off on his travels.

Although Siskany hadn’t won yet at the two-mile trip, he’d gone very close at Meydan in his only prior attempt. The five-year-old has been emerging in this division in the past two Dubai Carnivals, romping in the 2022 Al Khail Trophy and adding the Feb. 17 Nad al Sheba Trophy (G3) at about 1 3/4 miles. He was also third in last year’s lucrative Red Sea Turf H. (G3) on Saudi Cup Day.

Thus bettors lumped onto Siskany, dispatching him as the 0.85-1 favorite. His regular rider, Britain’s champion jockey William Buick, put him in the right position to deliver.

Siskany was settled in a ground-saving fifth as longshot Tide of the Sea went forward in splits of :24.10, :51.11, and 1:17.55 on the firm Widener turf. As the field left the clubhouse turn for its second passage down the backstretch, Buick guided Siskany off the inside.

Meanwhile, L’Imperator rushed from the tail of the field to overtake Tide of the Sea, but his gambit was brief. Tide of the Sea regained the lead until he was beset on all sides turning into the stretch. The venerable nine-year-old Channel Maker, who had been handy throughout, got to within a half-length of the leader before bowing out.

The mare Amazing Grace cut the corner and struck the front, only the daughter of 2014 Melbourne Cup (G1) hero Protectionist couldn’t put the race away. Siskany ranged up menacingly and drove clear in 3:23.94, more than seven seconds slower than Loft’s course record from last year’s Gold Cup.

“They went slow early, and I think that helped him,” O’Rourke said. “He’s got a big finishing kick and nothing got in his way. He was resolute to the line. A deserving winner. There’s no doubt he improves when he travels.”

The Grey Wizard rallied for second, a neck up on British Royalty, who almost replicated his runner-up effort from a year ago. Amazing Grace checked in fourth, followed by Cibolian, Irish shipper High Definition, Tide of the Sea, Barbados, Strong Tide, Channel Maker, Tartini, L’Imperator, and the eased Cross Border.

Siskany has bankrolled $972,435 from his 19-8-3-3 line. Aside from his Mideast exploits, the bay won last fall’s Godolphin S. at Newmarket and placed third in the Grosser Preis von Bayern (G1) and Wild Flower S. over Kempton’s Polytrack. His German placing was a dozen lengths behind the victorious Tunnes, while he missed by all of a neck at Kempton. Those late-season efforts came at about 1 1/2 miles, but he stepped back up in trip in Dubai.

“Very pleased,” Appleby’s assistant Chris Connett said at Belmont. “There wasn’t a whole lot of pace in the race there, but William gave him a lovely ride. One thing we know about this horse is for a horse that stays, he’s got a turn of foot and he showed that there. It was a very nice run.”

Buick, who graciously expressed his pleasure to ride at Belmont, commented on the winning trip.

“I thought getting him into the clear (down the backstretch) was a sensible thing to do. He was the best horse in the race and it was an opportunity that arose. Channel Maker took me into the race, and to get on the back of him was an obvious move at that point. And he finished up so well.

“He was narrowly beaten in the Dubai Gold Cup in a similar race,” Buick added, “so it was great to get the win today. This is his first time winning over the two miles. It’s a great job by the team. Charlie found this race for him and got him here in good shape.”

Appleby, watching from his Newmarket headquarters, will map out a familiar itinerary for 2024.

“Delighted with him. He’s a good mile-and-six (furlong) horse (in Europe), two-miler (stateside). He’s done that well today. Unfortunately, there’s nothing left for him there on the other side of the water, so we will likely bring him back here and then look to Dubai again and hopefully work our way back from a Belmont Gold Cup, again.”

British-bred Siskany is a “cousin” of Warren Point, who runs in Saturday’s Manhattan (G1). Their dams are half-sisters. Siskany was produced by the Dansili mare Halay, while Warren Point is out of Gaterie. The mares are also half-siblings to multiple Group 2 heroes Dartmouth and Manatee. Dartmouth, who raced for the late Queen Elizabeth II, is himself by Dubawi and thus a close relation of Siskany.