Flavian Pratt thumbs up after Flightline wins 2022 MetMile
It’s been 10 years since the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, better known as the Met Mile, was held on Memorial Day holiday at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.The race was moved from the federal holiday to May 30, 1971. Until the last Monday in May held on Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers.
The race itself dates back to 1891 and was held at the old Morris Park Racecourse, which has also hosted the Belmont Stakes for many years. Although also operated on the aqueduct in the 1960s, the Met Mile was a Belmont staple for most of his 20th century and through his 21st (subject to change due to construction of Belmont Park approaching) .
The Met Mile has been won by many of Thoroughbred’s greatest performers and has come to be known as the ‘stallion making’ race for older horses. Several three-year-olds have won the award, most recently Honor and Glory in 1996, followed by Holy Bull in 1994, Dixie Brass in 1992 and Gulch in 1987. are doing. Gulch was the most recent back-to-back. Winner when he won the Met Mile again in 1988.
The Met Mile’s boldest 3-year-old winner was 1982 Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo, and six days later Woody Stevens won the 1 1/2 mile G1 Belmont Stakes.
While the Met Mile stands alone as a great race on its own, New York Racing Association officials have upped the Memorial Day card by adding two more Grade 1 races, the Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the Ogden Phipps for fillies and fillies. further strengthened. .
In 2014, these three races were rescheduled to the Belmont Stakes dates, with two G1 races and one G3 race, for a total of six races in the program.
Fueled by California Chrome’s triple-card attempt that attracted a Belmont Park crowd of 102,199, the 2014 Belmont Stakes day wagers reached a record $150,249,399. That was more than $60 million more than the Belmont S card the year before, when the Triple Crown was not at stake.
But Memorial Day’s business suffered losses from those races in 2014, with handles plummeting from $16.2 million in 2013 to $9.9 million in 2014.
To their credit, the NYRA has returned its Memorial Day treatment to its Met Mile-era standards and now focuses on a good racing day showcasing New York-bred horses. Of course, from a race quality standpoint, it wouldn’t be the same without him having three G1 races, but those races have long since stopped drawing huge crowds to the Long Island circuit.
Making Belmont Stakes Day as strong a day of horse racing as this side of the Breeders’ Cup has helped especially if horses are aiming for the Triple Crown. Business at Belmont Day has its ups and downs with the Triple Crown attempt and the rivalries that play out for the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
But another added bonus of NYRA moving these races is that they get premium pricing for out-of-state simulcasts. When MetMile took place on Memorial Day, the cost of the simulcast signal to outlets and prepaid betting companies was lower than on Belmont Day. So not only was the NYRA able to increase its handle, but it was able to retain a greater percentage of simulcast dollars wagered on Belmont Day than on Memorial Day.
While some fans and racing officials still want the MetMile to run on Memorial Day, it made business sense to change it. You have to make hay while the sun is shining. Even without the Triple Crown, nothing in New York horse racing shines brighter than the day of the Belmont Stakes.
That’s my view from the 8th pole.