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Archive for Monday, May 17, 2004

Smarty Jones could face large field at Belmont

May 17, 2004

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— Smarty Jones might face an unusually large field in the Belmont Stakes when he attempts to become the first Triple Crown champion in 26 years.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner is likely to face several familiar foes, including Preakness runner-up Rock Hard Ten and third-place finisher Eddington.

Also being considered for the 11/2-mile Belmont on June 5 are three horses trained by Nick Zito -- Birdstone, Royal Assault and The Cliff's Edge.

The Cliff's Edge, who was fifth in the Derby despite losing his two front shoes, was scratched from the Preakness with a sore right front foot. Zito said the colt may be ready for the Belmont.

Royal Assault won the Sir Barton on Saturday's Preakness undercard, and Birdstone was eighth in the Derby.

Other possible starters include Derby runners Master David (ninth), Tapit (12th), Castledale (14th) and Friends Lake (15th); Swingforthefences, Relaxed Gesture, Sinister G and Mustanfar.

The Peter Pan Stakes on Saturday will help determine the Belmont fate of several horses. Among those set for the Peter Pan are Master David, Friends Lake, Sinister G and Swingforthefences.

Read the Footnotes, seventh in the Derby, has a chipped knee and will not make the Belmont.

"Right now we are pointing him to the Belmont," Rock Hard Ten trainer Jason Orman said. "We will stay here at Pimlico until either Monday or Tuesday and ship Rock Hard Ten to New York then."

Smarty Jones won the Derby by 23/4 lengths over Lion Heart, and the Preakness by a record 111/2 lengths over Rock Hard Ten.

The largest Belmont field was 15 in 1983, when Caveat defeated Slew o'Gold. In '96, there were 14 starters in the race won by Editor's Note.

Last year, there were six starters when Empire Maker spoiled Funny Cide's Triple try.

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