Field for Belmont Stakes very much undecided
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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