Eddington Returns to Track After Blazing Work
Date Posted: 5/27/2004 4:22:15 PM

From NYRA press notes -- Willmott Stables' Eddington returned to the track for the first time since working a half-mile in :46 2/5 Monday. The son of 1990 Belmont Stakes favorite Unbridled will try to fare better than his sire did 14 years ago when he finished fourth behind Go And Go.

"He seems to be doing real well," trainer Mark Hennig said Thursday morning. "We've got another work to go. We'll probably work him Sunday or Monday, depending on the weather."

Eddington heads into the Belmont Stakes after finishing 13 ½ lengths behind Smarty Jones in the Preakness. The colt has run third in his last three starts, including the Wood Memorial when he was defeated one-half length by Tapit.

"We're going to need to jump up and improve," Hennig said. "We've got to improve 13 ½ lengths. I think if we improve six or seven and Smarty Jones regresses six or seven, then we'll be alright."

Hennig, whose barn is one of the closest to the main track and paddock, is counting on that to aid Eddington in his quest to deny Smarty Jones the Visa Triple Crown on June 5th.

"It helps a horse like him to be familiar with his surroundings," said Hennig, who will saddle his first Belmont Stakes runner. "He trained at Gulfstream and ran there and never made any big mistakes. This is going to be a lot different scenario for us than the Preakness was because he had to ship in for the Preakness and nothing was familiar to him there. It seemed like he ran a little distracted at times, but here he should be pretty focused."

Hennig will find himself in a situation very different from the one he was in on Belmont Stakes Day the last two years when War Emblem and Funny Cide were trying for the Triple Crown.

"I sat up there as a fan the last two years, hoping they would get it done," Hennig said. "Anyone outside those closely connected to another horse should be rooting for Smarty Jones and a Triple Crown. There's a silver lining there for us: If we don't win, then I hope Smarty Jones does. I think there's a lot of excitement from the 'Smarty' folks and fans. It's obviously great for the game."

It has been a while since Ned Allard competed in a marquee race -- 19 years to be exact.
But the Philadelphia Park-based trainer has not forgotten what it is like to saddle a runner in a prestigious Grade 1 race. And nearly two decades after winning the 1985 Triple Tiara and Alabama with Mom's Command, Allard will send out longshot Tap Dancer in the 136th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5th.

Tap Dancer will try to make life miserable for another Philly Park trainer, John Servis, who will attempt to win the Visa Triple Crown with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones in the 1 ½-mile "Test of the Champion."

As of today, the field for the Belmont Stakes is Smarty Jones, Eddington, Rock Hard Ten, Royal Assault, Tapit and Tap Dancer, who is likely to go off the biggest price in the field. If Tap Dancer win the first graded stakes of his 10-race career in the Belmont, there is a good chance that he would overtake Sarava as the longest-priced Belmont winner in history. Two years ago, Sarava won the Belmont at odds of 70-1, defeating Medaglia d'Oro and ruining War Emblem's bid to be racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.

Tomorrow morning, Allard plans on working Tap Dancer six furlongs at Philadelphia Park; Smarty Jones is scheduled to work around 5:30 a.m.

Jockey Javier Castellano will ride Tap Dance, a son of the Irish-bred Sword Dance, in the Belmont Stakes. "He'll stretch his legs tomorrow," Allard said. "We'll ship to New York next Friday."

Tap Dancer will enter the Belmont Stakes off a fourth-place finish behind Royal Assault, a colt he will face again on June 5th, in Pimlico's Sir Barton on Preakness Day. After entering the stretch five wide, Tap Dancer gradually passed two horses in the final furlong of the mile and a sixteenth race before finishing three lengths behind the winner. Given the colt's deep closing style, Allard said the mile and a half Belmont will be a perfect fit for Tap Dancer.

"The race has been over when he's just beginning to hit his best stride," Allard said. "All of Sword Dance's offspring seem to excel going a mile and a quarter and beyond. We know it's an ambitious spot, but I think he's got a shot."

Even though his entrant will garner little tote support and looks totally outclassed on paper, Allard said he is looking forward to making his Triple Crown debut.

"It's pretty exciting," Allard said. "Winning the Triple Tiara with Mom's Command was an unforgettable experience. There's nothing like being a part of the game's biggest races."


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