Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap
|Discontinued Grade 1 race|
Elmont, New York, United States
|Race type||Thoroughbred - Flat racing|
|Distance||1 1⁄8 miles (9 furlongs)|
|Qualification||Three-years-old & up|
The Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap was a Thoroughbred horse race first run in September 1973 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. A Grade 1 race for horses 3 years old and up, it was raced over a distance of 1 1⁄8 miles on a dirt track.
The race came into existence as a result of the huge popularity of Secretariat, who in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown champion in twenty-five years. Such was the drawing power of Secretariat that CBS television readily agreed to broadcast the race nationally, a rare occurrence at the time for a non-Triple Crown or traditional "classic" event (such as the Travers Stakes). Originally conceived as a match race with Secretariat's stablemate and 1972 Kentucky Derby winner Riva Ridge, it was changed to an invitational race that brought together the top horses 3 years of age and older.
In the inaugural race, Secretariat set a world record time for 1 1⁄8 miles on dirt while winning by three-and-a-half lengths. The race became a very important annual event and 1978 marked the first of only two times in racing history that two American Triple Crown winners met in a single race, with Seattle Slew, the 1977 champion, defeating the 1978 champion Affirmed by three lengths. (The two met again in that year's edition of the Jockey Club Gold Cup; Seattle Slew lost by a nose to Exceller, while Affirmed finished up the track due to a slipped saddle.)
For many years, v was part of Belmont Park's Fall Championship meet—in fact, the track created a Fall Championship Series consisting of the Marlboro Cup, the Woodward Stakes, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (not necessarily in that order). CBS and later NBC continued to carry the Marlboro into the 1980s.
The advent of the Breeders' Cup races in 1984 marked the beginning of the end for the Marlboro Cup. In 1987, the 15th edition of the race attracted just five horses and was picked up for broadcast on cable television only.
- No horse won this race more than once.
Most wins by a jockey:
- 3 - Jacinto Vasquez (1977, 1982, 1983)
Most wins by a trainer:
- 2 - MacKenzie Miller (1980, 1987)
Most wins by an owner:
- 2 - Rokeby Stables (1980, 1987)