Hall of Fame Inductee 2023
Ontario-bred Formal Gold, a foal of 1993, has the distinction of recording a Beyer Speed Figure of 112, the highest given to a first-time starter since Andrew Beyer formulated the ground-breaking performance ratings in the 1970s. The handsome dark bay went on to an illustrious career, competing against, and defeating some of the best handicap horses of his generation.
Bred by Rodes and Cathie Kelly, Formal Gold was sired by Breeders Cup Classic winner, Black Tie Affair, and produced from the Woodbine winner, Ingoldsby, a daughter of Screen King. Originally a $65,000 yearling purchase at the 1994 Keeneland September Yearling sale, Formal Gold was re-sold as a 2-year-old at the Fasig Tipton Saratoga juvenile sale for $75,000 to John Murphy of Massachusetts. Trained by William Perry, Formal Gold did not race as a 2-year-old but when he debuted at Monmouth Park in New Jersey in 1996, he was rumoured to be a good one. Indeed, the colt streaked to a jaw-dropping 18 3/4 length victory in the six-furlong sprint, stopping the teletimer in 1.09.24, earning him that monumental Beyer Figure.
Formal Gold would romp in three more allowance races before tackling stakes company. He finished a close second in the Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby and Grade 1 Meadowlands Cup before landing fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Woodbine behind Alphabet Soup.
As a 4-year-old, Formal Gold began the campaign with a front running victory in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap defeating the 1996 Champion 3-Year-Old, Skip Away. The colt went on the road for two big events, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and Dubai World Cup, finishing on the edges in those races, before he returned to the US for what would be a stellar fall campaign.
Formal Gold and Skip Away put on a show with their stretch battle in the Grade 3 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs, with Skip Away winning by a head. The pair just missed the track record for 1 1/8 miles that day and each earned a Beyer Figure of 122. In June, Formal Gold romped to a four-length win in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park under jockey Jerry Bailey. Following a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont, Formal Gold led almost all the way in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga only to be caught by Will’s Way who won by a nose. The pair earned a 126 Beyer Figure, one of the highest ratings ever recorded.
Formal Gold would end his career with two dominating victories, both over his arch rival Skip Away. He set a track record in the Grade 2 Philip Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, sizzling 1 1/16 miles in 1,40.20, for a 124 Beyer Figure. In September, he flew to a 5 1/2 length win the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Belmont with Skip Away second and Will’s Way finishing third, posting a 125 Beyer Figure. Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who rode Formal Gold to the Woodward win, said after the race, “I have never ridden a horse in my life who gives so much.”
Formal Gold was set to complete his 4-year-old season in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Hollywood Park but he suffered a fracture in a right hind leg and was retired. Skip Away would go on to win the Classic and collect the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Male.
At stud, Formal Gold sired a number of graded stakes winners including Adore the Gold, Transduction Gold and Semaphore Man. He stood his final year in Alberta at Esquirol Farms.
Formal Gold’s career totals of 16-8-4-1 earned him over $1.5 million and he is considered one of the most talented horses ever foaled in Canada.