Letter to the Editor: Rinaldo Del Gallo, III


Imperative's (Bernardini) victory in the 2017 GII Charlestown Classic is something that should receive more notice than it did by the media. I believe his win is historic. As reported, Imperative won the Charles Town Classic back in 2014, came in second in 2015, came in fourth in 2016 and won it again in 2017. It was worth $1.5 million in 2014 and $1.25 million today. But the media mentions this casually without considering its implications; they are far more interested in the fact that Imperative is the second two-time winner of the race.

North American horses winning non-back-to-back stakes races with rich purses are certainly the exception, such as Game on Dude (Awesome Again) winning the Santa Anita Derby in 2011 and then again in 2013, but not in 2012, or Joshua Tree (Montjeu) winning the 2010 and then the 2012 Canadian International, but coming in second in 2011. There is Kelso who won the Whitney H. in 1961 and 1963 and 1965, but not in 1962 or 1965. Bolingbroke won the 1940, 1942 and 1943 Suburban, but not the 1941 rendition. John Henry won the 1980 and 1981 Hollywood Invitational H., and then won it again in 1984–a Grade I race. The $300,000 John Henry earned in the 1984 Hollywood Invitation would be worth about $700,000 today. However, John Henry also did take the 1981 and 1984 Arlington Million after his third in 1983, making John Henry another repeat winner of a race with a million-dollar purse, with the victories spaced three years apart. Seabiscuit deserves mention in that he ran in the Santa Anita Derby and came in second in 1937 and 1938, skipped the race due to injuries in 1939, and finally won it in 1940–but he only won the race once. Exterminator won the Saratoga Cup four years in a row, but I do not know if this could be considered a purse equivalent to a million dollars. (Likewise for Kelso's Whitneys or Bollinbroke's Suburbans).

It is supposed that somewhere out there, horses have won minor stakes races with two intermittent years in North America. But horses that have run in races in the United States with million-dollar purses and won the same race three years later may never have been done before other than John Henry in the Arlington Million.

As for North America, there may only be Joshua Tree at Woodbine in Canada in the Canadian International. Apart from John Henry, Joshua Tree and Imperative, I cannot think of any other horses in North America that won a race with a million-dollar purse and repeated again in the same race three years later. I am not saying there are not any more other than these three, but that is all I can provide. Perhaps the reader can supply others. Winning a horse race in North America with at least a million-dollar purse and doing it again three years later is a feat of tenacity worthy of attention, is extremely rare, and should not have been ignored.

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