Saturday June 5, 2004

Not EVERYONE is excited about Smarty Jones and The Triple Crown!

The 136th Belmont Stakes
11th @ Belmont--All carry 126

1. Master David...Santos...Ran a huge race in the Remsen last year, but has never run that well again since. Not a good sign of nearby progression. He finished 3rd in the Peter Pan behind Purge. 8 lengths behind Purge. Tough to like him here for anymore than just 4th. Frankel says the pressure's off. What pressure?

2. Purge...Velasquez...really loved him in Arkansas as I thought he'd put Smarty to bed. As it turned out, Smarty blew right by him. He came back nicely in the Peter Pan, but it's worth noting that Pletcher was leaning toward skipping his for the Dwyer. Still, you can't discount that effort over this track. Breeding says distance may be questionable with Copelan on the dam side. Sure didn't look like an issue last time though. Possible for exotics.

3. Caiman...Dominguez...I have no idea. Totally clueless. Winner of two straight allowance races at Hawthorne. How does that equate?

4. Birdstone...Prado...This is one dangerous customer at this point, especially to get a piece. Things started falling apart for Zito early in the year. He got a reprieve with The Cliffs Edge in the Bluegrass, and he was supposed to run here except for the ouchy feet. This guy has some decent hidden efforts in his last two, and he could be ready for a move forward that would put him in the exotics. Can he win? Probably not, but for now he's probably a sure use underneath the top two.

5. Rock Hard Ten...Solis...This horse has the potential to knock the wind out of Smarty's sails. He is BIG, gorgeous looking horse. Almost too gorgeous to race. He should be a model. The work on Monday was sensational and he should take to this track and the distance like no other in here. He'll have to make up 11 lengths from his last, but I have a feeling this one will be closer than the Preakness, If I could find a prop on a dead-heat, I'd be all over it. Looks poised to move forward here.

6. Royal Assault...Day...Not quite ready for these yet. Maybe down the road...but not yet. Trying the Sarava route, but there's no War Emblem in here.

7. Tap Dancer...Castellano...Hasn't shown that he's nearly fast enough for this.

8. Eddington...Bailey...I'm not entirely convinced that he's ready for a move forward. He really hasn't progressed much this year and know he'll be asked again to step it up. Only one race last year and it was a decent beginning, but this will be his 7th race already this year and you have to wonder how much is in the tank for this.

9. Smarty Jones...Elliott...Reportedly doing everything right. The hype is steamrolling along at unbelievable proportions. Not even the gutsy gelding from upstate could upstage this guy at this point. He's been linked to several crazy offbeat reports in papers all around the country for the last 3 weeks. Exploits that would put Wilt Chamberlain to shame! But how is he really? I'm a little concerned that he has to have reached the bottom last time. It almost has to be, doesn't it? Still, he keeps on chuggin'. That last 1/4 mile should tell us whether we are witnessing something special, or another almost, but no cigar. We'll know at about 6:45 Eastern on Saturday. Four negative numbers in a row on Thorograph. That is unheard of in a 3 year-old!!!

For the 6th time in 8 years, we're going for the Triple Crown.Last year, I was sure Funny Cide would do it. But a string of mishaps and the all-day rain got in his way. He has proven to be quite average since this race last year. This year, it's different.

Smarty Jones will be one tough customer to handle. I'm a little nervous with all of these top efforts in a row. Sometime soon, and it could be today, fatigue will come calling. And it will have to be answered.

Rock Hard Ten should complete the $8 exacta.

I believe that Purge will bounce here but he still should be able to hold 3rd.

Birdstone can pick up a check here as I expect Eddington is too tired.

1. Smarty Jones

2. Rock Hard Ten

3. Purge

4. Birdstone

Best of luck on the Belmont card!

Photo courtesy of Kim Pratt.

2004 bBra