Chart (and photo) of the week: Beldame wins the 1905 Suburban Handicap

On June 8, 1905, the 4-year-old Octagon filly Beldame would defeat Cairngorm (Star Ruby (GB)) by 1 ½ lengths to land her first win of the season in the Standard Stakes (1 ¼ mi.) at Gravesend.

Having previously run unplaced in the Metropolitan Handicap (1 mi.) at Belmont Park and second in a mile and a sixteenth handicap at Gravesend, Beldame’s win in the Standard Stakes inspired confidence in her backers, as the race was run under the same weight-for-age conditions as the rapidly approaching Suburban Handicap (1 ¼ mi.) at Sheepshead Bay on June 15.

One week later, despite a bookmakers’ strike which suspended betting at the Sheepshead Bay track for half an hour, Beldame would go off as a 7-2 second choice in the Suburban betting behind James R. Keene’s Ben Brush colt Delhi at 3-1.

Typically a hot tempered filly, Beldame was unusually calm and collected while lining up for the start of the race, with Delhi causing the most trouble at the line, and broke well, laying behind pace setter Delhi for roughly the first mile, then taking charge in the final quarter to defeat Proper (Prestonpans (GB)) by a length for the win. Delhi would tire to finish fifth.

CHART - 1905 Suburban H. (NYT 1905.06.16)

The New York Times, 06/16/1905

In addition to becoming only the second female horse to win the Suburban (Imp – 1899), Beldame’s final time of 2:05 ⅗ would go down as the third fastest recorded (Hermis – 2:05 (1904)); Gold Heels – 2:05 ⅕ (1902)) in the twenty-two year history of the race.

Interestingly, many online sources give a remarkably different finish to the 1905 Suburban, listing Beldame as having beaten Broomstick by five lengths. Beldame did beat Broomstick by four lengths in the Second Special (1 ½ mi.) at Gravesend on September 24, 1904, but unless timelines have diverged somewhere, he did not contest that next year’s Suburban.

Following the race, Beldame’s owner/breeder August Belmont “said that he would keep the mare in training through the remainder of the season, but will select her future races with great care, as he will not permit her to be raced excessively, his intention being to retire her while still sound and in full vigor as a brood mare,” and (despite earlier reports that she was to go to Hamburg) stated that she was to be bred to Clarence Mackay’s St. Gatien (GB) stallion Meddler (GB) upon her retirement.

“This decision, Mr. Belmont said, was in deference to the opinion of a majority of experts on breeding, reached through a competition conducted in Kentucky last Winter, when the weight of opinion was that the union of the blood of Meddler and Beldame would be the most successful cross possible to find for the filly.” (The New York Times, 06/16/1905)

PHOTO - Beldame wins 1905 Suburban (HW Vol. XLIX, No. 2532, 1905.07.01)

Beldame (1901 ch. f. Octagon – Bella Donna (GB) by Hermit (GB)) wins the 1905 Suburban Handicap at Sheepshead Bay (Coney Island Jockey Club) over Proper (2nd) and First Mason (3rd). Photo as published in Harper’s Weekly (Vol. XLIX, No. 2532), 07/01/1905.


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