Ten Things You Should Know: United Nations
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
1) The United Nations Stakes is a Grade 1 turf race run at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey. This year’s edition is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, the winner will qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Turf in October.
2) The first edition of the race was held at Atlantic City Race Course in 1953. When Atlantic City drastically cut its race dates in 1998, they canceled that year’s United Nations. The race moved to Monmouth Park in 1999, where it has been run ever since.
3) The race was run at a distance of 1 3/16 miles from 1953 to 1997. The distance changed to 1 3/8 miles in 1999, when the race moved to Monmouth.
4) The race is named for the United Nations in New York, which was established in 1945 to foster cooperation between nation states. Track management hoped to attract horses from many nations to compete over the course in Atlantic City and offered the largest purse for a North American turf race at the time. The first edition of the race was won by a Chilean-bred named Iceberg II, trained by future Hall of Famer Horatio Luro.
5) From 1992 to 1997 the race was run as the Caeser’s Invitational Handicap.
6) The United Nations and the Washington D.C. International at Laurel Park in Maryland were, for many years, the premier turf stakes in the country. The D.C. International was run for the last time in 1994, making the United Nations one of the longest running turf stakes in the United States.
7) The great American turf runner Round Table, won the 1957 and 1959 editions of the U.N but lost in 1958 to Clem, who broke the track record set by Iceberg II.
8) In 1968, the speed demon Dr. Fager, won the United Nations wire-to-wire. It was the only race of his career on turf. After the race, his trainer, John Nerud, called it Dr. Fager’s “toughest race” and told reporters, “…My horse is not a grass horse, he won on class and heart alone…”
9) Three-time champion Fort Marcy finished third in the 1967, 1968, and 1969 runnings of the U.N. He finished first in 1970.
10) In the 2009 United Nations, Presious Passion took an unheard of 20-length-lead before going into the first turn and finished two lengths ahead while setting a new course record.