Call To Mind shows staying power . . . and so does the Queen
Report: USA, Friday
Belmont Park: Belmont Gold Cup Invitational (Grade 2) 2m | turf | 4yo+
At the age of 92 most of us would be safely tucked up in bed at around 11pm with a big day ahead, but the Queen showed phenomenal staying power on Friday night by staying up late to watch her homebred four-year-old Call To Mind win the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational before talking to her racing adviser John Warren on the phone afterwards.
The monarch was back on royal duty for Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace at 10am on Saturday morning and as the Red Arrows performed their traditional flypast, she might have been mulling over whether to send Call To Mind to Australia for a crack at the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
The son of Galileo was steered to a comfortable length success in the $400,000 Grade 2 by Javier Castellano who, like officials at Belmont Park, came in for praise for their part in what Warren described as an "uplifting occasion".
Warren said: "It was great and she was really buzzed up last night having watched it, which was great as it was rather late for her to stay up. All in all it was a great occasion for the Queen to enjoy and we have a rather wonderful Gold Cup trophy, which I hope she'll enjoy when it gets home.
"It was wonderful, a really uplifting occasion and we managed to get the Queen on the phone after the race."
Warren stressed no plans were fixed for the William Haggas-trained four-year-old, but left the door ajar for a trip down under in November.
"There's nothing imminent, but now we've learned a bit about the horse," said Warren. "He's such a laidback horse so travelling might be his game and we'll have to have a look.
"This was the plan and we haven't moved on to the next step yet as everyone is just thoroughly enjoying the moment."
Pressed if Australia could be on the agenda, Warren added: "I don't know yet. We'll wait to see and I wouldn't want to predict, but Australia is definitely on the cards and definitely not ruled out.
"It's a long way to go, but if everything is stacked in the favour to think that was a strong probability for the horse's programme and it was staring at us, we're not going to ignore it. There's no bar on what we can do and I'm sure the Queen would be very open to what becomes the obvious."
The Queen took little persuading in allowing her Galileo colt to head to the US, as Warren explained: "We were disappointed not to be able to find a race for the horse at Ascot because there isn't a two-mile or mile-six race in the programme that suited him well enough and we were concerned about pushing him at the Gold Cup distance, which we felt was a step too far at this point of his career.
"So I asked William to take a look to see what international opportunities there were.
"The Queen is always open to new ideas and was keen to give it a go. She was thrilled, especially as she bred him, and Memory looks a fantastic young mare."
The Queen's other Graded winners in the US
1989 Arlington Handicap (Grade 1), Arlington Park
Trainer William Hastings-Bass (now Lord Huntingdon)
2000 De La Rose Handicap (Grade 3), Gulfstream Park
Trainer Christophe Clement
The venture went to plan as Castellano, who counts the Preakness Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic among his big-race triumphs, had Call To Mind in a handy position before kicking for home three out on the favourite, who kept on well to beat Canessar with fellow Newmarket raider Prince Of Arran third for Charlie Fellowes.
"It was one of the occasions where everything worked out and Javier rode a brilliant race," said Warren.
"I was a little bit anxious that he'd ridden in eight of the previous nine races and done trackwork in the morning, so wondered whether riding two miles, which would have been a bit out of his comfort zone, would have a knock-on effect, but he rode a brilliant race."
The Queen memorably celebrated Estimate's Gold Cup win at Royal Ascot in 2013 and Warren suggested she would take plenty of joy from the result, just as the US crowd had done when welcoming a royal winner.
"It went down so well and Belmont were outstanding, very accommodating," he said.
"Nothing was too much trouble and they made everything work so well. They were tremendously enthusiastic and the crowd was great, while the jockey was absolutely thrilled.
"To ride for the Queen was a sort of dream come true and he [Castellano] must have said thank you ten times."
Also on Friday
Belmont Park: New York Stakes (Grade 2) 1m2f | turf | 4yo+ f/m
William Haggas's former assistant Archie Watson was out of luck on the Belmont bill when Snowy Winter finished last of nine behind Fourstar Crook (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz).
Brown's odds-on favourite Sistercharlie was second, while Daddys Lil Darling, withdrawn from last year's Oaks after bolting when spooked by lightning, came third.
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