Street Sense may not race at Belmont
May 20, 2007
BALTIMORE (AP) -No Triple, no buzz.
And maybe no Kentucky Derby winner for the Belmont Stakes, either.
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 big.'''
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 1 1/2-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 28 1/2 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 winner.
``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 Belmont, too.
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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Field for Belmont Stakes very much undecided
May 21st, 2007
Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - The size and appearance of the 139th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9 is nowhere near decided. There are no confirmed starters for the final jewel of racing's Triple Crown as trainers and owners contemplate their next move.
Now that the chance of the first Triple Crown winner in 29 years has been put to rest, it is not expected that all three leading three-year-olds will return for the Belmont Stakes.
Carl Nafzger, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, currently does not expect his colt to be entered in the 1 1/2 mile race.
"I'll talk to Mr. Tafel, but if I was a betting man I'd take some bets against it," Nafzger said. "Winning isn't everything in this game. I don't have any animosity against Curlin beating me. I want to beat him the next time I run against him, but this horse beat us and he beat us fair and square."
Trainer Steve Asmussen is non-committal on the next start for Preakness Stakes champ Curlin, but he gave the indication that the colt will not dodge the big events.
"This is the stage this horse deserves and those are the caliber of races he is intended for," Asmussen said. "It will all be up to him physically, but that is the stage that he deserves to be on. Our job is to make sure he is prepared for it."
Also showing some interest in the Belmont Stakes is Larry Jones, trainer of Hard Spun. The colt was second in the Run for the Roses and third in the Preakness Stakes.
"I don't know (about the Belmont)," Jones said. "We'll discuss it. His mother was a stakes winner at a mile and a half. There is no reason to think he can't do it because he sure won't have to run this fast early next time. We'll discuss it. As we said when we started, we had plans of running three races, all three of them. We'll see. This race sure doesn't make me think that we can't do it. We'll see in the next day or so and we'll make our plans."
Two horses coming off wins this past weekend who could show up in the Belmont Stakes are Chelokee and Sightseeing.
Chelokee, trained by Michael Matz, easily won the Barbaro Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. The three-year-old was the 3-10 favorite in stakes named for last year's doomed Kentucky Derby winner.
Matz left the door open for the Belmont after the colt's first start since finishing third in the Florida Derby.
"It's still a little early to tell," Matz noted. "We'll see how he comes out of this race. He hadn't run in seven weeks. Those others are looking like they're doing real good, so at this point, we'll just wait and see where we are."
Sightseeing captured the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on Sunday. Trained by Shug McGaughey, Sightseeing was making his first start since a second place finish in the Wood Memorial.
"We'll wait and see how he comes out of this," McGaughey said. "The Belmont is possible. Back at the Wood Memorial, just knowing the horse and where he was at mentally, I was thinking about the Jim Dandy. We'll see what happens. We're here and I am sure the Phipps' would love to run in the Belmont if they thought they had a legitimate chance."
Other possible Belmont Stakes starters are Wood Memorial winner Nobiz Like Shobiz, Santa Anita Derby champ Tiago, Great Hunter, Imawildandcrazyguy and Lone Star Derby winner Slew's Tizzy.
Leading three-year-old filly Rags to Riches is also under consideration. She cruised to victory in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs the day before the Kentucky Derby.
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