Ten Things You Should Know: Suburban Handicap
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
1) The Suburban Handicap is a Grade 2 race for horses 3 years old and up, run at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY.
2) Run for the first time in 1884, the race is among the oldest and most prestigious handicap races in the country. It has run continuously since its founding with the exception of 1911, 1912, and 1914.
3) It has been hosted at Sheepshead Bay, Belmont Park, and Aqueduct in New York. It started at Sheepshead in 1884 and was run there until that track closed in 1910. It moved to Belmont Park in 1913 and has been there ever since with the exception of 1961 to 1974 and 1976 when it was at Aqueduct.
4) The race was run at a 1 ¼ miles for nearly its entire history with the exception of 1975, 1976 and 2010 to 2013. It has been returned to the original distance for 2014.
5) Whisk Broom II set the world record for 1 ¼ miles in the 1913 Suburban. He finished the race in two minutes flat while carrying the high weight of 139 pounds. He broke the record, set by his sire Broomstick in 1904, by nearly three seconds.
6) Whisk Broom II was the first of four horses to complete the New York Handicap Triple Crown. The series comprises the Suburban, Metropolitan (aka the Met Mile), and Brooklyn Handicaps. The other winners of the handicap triple are Tom Fool (1953), Kelso (1961), and Fit to Fight (1984). Horses rarely run in all three races in the current era and it’s likely that Fit to Fight will be the last of the Handicap Triple Crown winners.
7) Five mares have won the Suburban, including Hall of Famers Imp (1899) and Beldame (1905). Other female winners are the daughter of Man o’War Bateau (1929), Harmonica (1948), and Busanda (1951), the dam of the great Buckpasser.
8) Three-time Horse of the Year Forego (1974-1976) finished in the top three in four straight Suburbans. He finished third in 1974, won the race in 1975, then ran second in 1976 and 1977. Five-time Horse of the Year Kelso finished first or second in four straight years, winning the race in 1961 and 1963. He finished second in 1962 and 1964.
9) Besides Kelso, Crusader (1926-1927), Winter’s Tale (1980, 1983), Devil His Due (1993-1994), and Flat Out (2011, 2013) won the Suburban twice.
10) Two trainers, Sam Hildreth and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, hold the record of five wins in the Suburban. The great jockey Eddie Arcaro won the race a record eight times. His first came in 1945 aboard Devil Diver and his last came in 1961 on Kelso.