No Triple, no buzz.
And maybe no Kentucky Derby winner for the Belmont Stakes,
On the morning after Curlin edged Street Sense by a head in the
Preakness, trainer Carl Nafzger said he's leaning against running
Derby winner Street Sense in the Belmont on June 9.
"Right now, I don't think we probably will," Nafzger said
Sunday. "There's not really any reason to go there right now."
Nafzger could change his mind after talking with owner James
Tafel, but even if Street Sense shows up the Belmont won't be the
same without a Triple on the line.
"If the Derby winner becomes the Preakness winner, I call my
wife and tell her `I'll see you in three weeks," said John Lee,
New York Racing Association's director of communications. "When
this happens, you aren't going to go absolutely nuts for three
weeks, but you're also saying, `Oh man, this would have been
Racing fans were getting used to Triple tries at Belmont, with
six in the previous 10 years. But this is the third year in a row
without an attempt to crown the first Triple Crown champion since
Affirmed in 1978.
However, an intriguing field for the 1½-mile Belmont remains
possible - even the filly Rags to Riches is under consideration.
Curlin is a rising 3-year-old star after just five career
starts, and likely would be the favorite. The chestnut colt won his
first three starts by a combined 28½ lengths, then finished third
in the Derby despite a troubled trip in the early stages.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Curlin came out of the Preakness
somewhat weary - "he definitely knows he ran." Asmussen wouldn't
commit to the Belmont, but he's thinking big with his first Classic
"This is the stage this horse deserves and those are the
caliber of races he is intended for," the trainer said, referring
to the Belmont and other Grade 1 races. "It will be up to him
physically. Our job is to make sure he is prepared for it."
Hard Spun, second in the Derby and third in the Preakness,
likely will try again in the Belmont. Trainer Larry Jones figures
it's his turn to win.
"We got beat by two really good horses, we sure don't have
anything to be ashamed of," Jones said. "Carl and Steve are both
very nice guys, and I'm sure if all three go to Belmont, they're
going to feel sorry for him (Hard Spun) and let me have one."
Other Belmont contenders include four Derby starters -
Imawildandcrazyguy (fourth), Tiago (seventh), Nobiz Like Shobiz
(10th) and Great Hunter (13th). Also on the list are Chelokee,
trainer Michael Matz's colt who won the Barbaro Stakes on Saturday,
Lone Star Derby winner Slew's Tizzy and Cristobal, who has run
twice in France.
Rags to Riches, trained by Todd Pletcher, is the nation's top
filly coming off a victory in the Kentucky Oaks. Pletcher's Triple
Crown race record stands at 0-for-28 after Circular Quay finished
fifth and King of the Roxy was sixth in the Preakness.
Two of the 21 fillies who ran in the Belmont have won - Ruthless
in 1867 and Tanya in 1905. The last to compete was Silverbulletday,
who finished seventh in 1999.
Soaring By, also trained by Pletcher, and several other horses
who ran in Saturday's Peter Pan at Belmont Park could end up in the
NOTES: C P West, fourth in the Preakness for trainer Nick Zito,
will bypass the Belmont and be pointed to the Travers Stakes at
Saratoga in August. ... Curlin's time for the 1 3-16th-mile
Preakness was 1:53.46, equaling the stakes record shared by Tank's
Prospect (1985) and Louis Quatorze (1996). ... The Preakness crowd
of 121,263 broke last year's record of 118,402.
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