Trainer John Servis, having just returned from a couple of days of relaxation up in the Poconos with his wife, Sherry, told a gathering of reporters Wednesday morning that Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Smarty Jones has come out the second leg of the Triple Crown as strong as ever.
"I was real, real happy with what I saw this morning," Servis said following Smarty's first day back at the track. "I can't see any reason why this horse wouldn't go to the Belmont and run as good a race as he's been running all along."
About the mile and a half distance of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and the strain of competing in the Triple Crown, Servis said, "You never know, but I can tell you, I haven't been able to get to the bottom of him. You have to go back to Preakness Day and the way he was after the race and the next morning. I mean, I'm looking at a horse with bright eyes, who licked his feed tub clean. There were no signs of being tired or worn out. Again, I just wonder, when am I going to get to the bottom of him."
Servis had intended to jog Smarty Jones this morning, but decided halfway through to gallop him a half-mile instead of finishing the jog. "We got about a half-mile through the jog, and he just got to feeling so good that I was more concerned what tonight might be like," Servis said. "By galloping him a half-mile, I was just trying to take a little bit of the edge off him.
"It's great to see him like that, but at this stage of the game, the first thing that comesi nto my mind is he's feeling too good. And I don't want him being back at the barn in this frame of mind, because I don't want him to hurt himself. He was happy coming home and wasn't too rank. I just can't get over how this horse came out of the race. It's amazing, but right now, this horse is showing signs that he's still going forward."
Servis said he hasn't finalized any shipping plans to Belmont. "I talked to New York this morning, and I told them if he continues to train well here I'm going to keep him here as long as I can," he said."
Smarty Jones, as he did the Saturday after the Derby, will gallop in front of the fans at 8:30 this Saturday. There were some 5,000 on hand last time, and there very well could be more this time.