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Joe Hirsch Turf Classic: Kitten's Joy in Lion's Den

Sophomore turf sensation Kitten's Joy gets the ultimate test Saturday, facing a tough group of seasoned older horses in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park. Leg two of the NTRA's National Pick 4, the Turf Classic will be shown live on ESPN and has an approximate post time of 5:12 p.m. EDT.

Last NTRA Pick 4 of the Year Offered Saturday

The NTRA National Pick 4 wager, offered in conjunction with the "NTRA Super Saturday" telecasts airing on ABC and ESPN, makes its fifth and final appearance of the year Saturday. Three grade I stakes from Belmont Park: the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, and the Vosburgh Stakes; along with the Yellow Ribbon Stakes from Oak Tree at Santa Anita make up the wager.

Finery Ready For Stakes Start in Noble Damsel

Following two straight runner-up finishes in allowances races, trainer Billy Turner will start Althea Richards' Finery in a stakes for the first time, Saturday's grade III, $150,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at one mile on the turf at Belmont.

Travelator Highweighted in Belmont's Floral Park

Our Sugar Bear Stable's three-time stakes winner Travelator is the 116-pound highweight in the 10th running of the $100,000 Floral Park Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park. Topping a field of five fillies and mares set to travel the 6 furlongs, the Stanley Hough-trained runner comes back only seven days after stepping up in class in an eight-length loss Sept. 11 in the Endine Handicap (gr. III) at Delaware Park

Not So Smart

By Gary McMillen -- Sometimes it takes a thorn to get rid of a splinter. Like a Maryland blue crab dropped out of a basket, I scurried to the safety of my office. There were questions I needed to ask myself. Smarty Jones did not give me what I wanted but maybe he gave me what I needed.

TVG Reports Record Handle

TVG posted the highest quarterly handle in company history for the quarter that ended June 30, Ryan O'Hara, TVG president announced Friday. Keys to the second quarter figures were record wagering of $5.2 million on Kentucky Derby day (May 1) and $3.2 million on Belmont Stakes day (June 5).

Summer Wind

By Lenny Shulman -- As the Thoroughbred tribe dispersed from its heady gathering at Belmont Park June 5, still flush with more media coverage than it could have dreamed, the question in everyone's head became, "How do we keep this tidal wave of interest going?"

Minge Cove Looks for Sands Point Upset

Minge Cove was beaten 2 1/2 lengths in the Herecomesthebride after a troubled trip. The winner, Lucifer's Stone, had just taken an entry-level allowance and owned a decided experience edge. When the two meet again in Sunday's $100,000 Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on grass, Minge Cove might have a better shot .

Belmont Wagering, Attendance Marks Fall

Records in attendance and handle for Belmont Park and the New York Racing Association (NYRA) were set Saturday as Birdstone upset heavily-favored Smarty Jones in the 136th running of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) before a crowd of 120,139. The previous attendance record was 103,222 during the Belmont Stakes two years ago.

Servis: Smarty Jones Had a 'Bulls-Eye' on Him

Trainer John Servis said he was "disappointed" for owners Roy and Patricia Chapman that Smarty Jones' bid for the Visa Triple Crown Challenge came up short when he finished a gutsy second to Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) but that he was proud of the effort given by the colt Saturday.

Meteor Storm Takes Manhattan Handicap

Reserved early, Meteor Storm and Jose Valdivia Jr. came flying down the outside of the course to win the $400,000 Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) Saturday on the Belmont Park turf.

Belmont TV Overnight Rating Best in 27 Years

Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) win by 36-1 shot Birdstone ended previously unbeaten Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown hopes and delivered a 13.4 overnight rating and a 27 share, the best Belmont overnight since a 15.4/47 for Seattle Slew's Triple Crown-clinching victory in 1977, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Bear Fan Sets Track Record in Vagrancy

Smarty Jones will have to do a lot to win as impressively as Bear Fan. The 5-year-old mare set a track record in taking the Vagrancy (gr. II) by nine lengths in the first of six consecutive graded stakes today at Belmont Park that will culminate with a run for the Triple Crown.

Friday Notes: Hennig Says Eddington Ready to Go

Eddington, the third-place finisher in the Preakness (gr. I) and 10-1 on the morning line for Saturday's 136th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds, galloped a mile and three furlongs over Belmont's main track Friday. "He's ready," trainer Mark Hennig said. "He's doing as well as can be expected."

Servis to Press: It's Time to Dance

At the daily press conference outside Barn 5 at Belmont Park Friday morning, trainer John Servis' opening remarks were "I feel real good." He acknowledged that Smarty Jones was ready for his bid for the Triple Crown on Saturday and said the undefeated runner "knows it's time to dance."

Triple Crown Bid Busters: Spoil-Sports

It's not easy playing the role of villain in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). They're the guys wearing the black hats, the party poopers, the evil-doers of the Triple Crown. In the last 35 years, there have been three Triple Crown winners, and 11 horses that fell short in the 1 1/2-mile "Test of a Champion."

Belmont Surprise: Caiman to Start

Veteran jockey Ramon Dominguez, leading rider in the nation last year with 453 trips to the winner's circle, has been named as the jockey aboard surprise starter Caiman for Saturday's 135th running of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Building Blocks

By Ray Paulick -- Somewhere at the Aurora, Canada, corporate headquarters where Frank Stronach sits atop his Magna International and Magna Entertainment Corp. empire, there is a warehouse filled with architectural drawings and miniature models for changes to the racetracks Magna now owns.

Not So Smart

By Gary McMillen -- Sometimes it takes a thorn to get rid of a splinter. Like a Maryland blue crab dropped out of a basket, I scurried to the safety of my office. There were questions I needed to ask myself. Smarty Jones did not give me what I wanted but maybe he gave me what I needed.

Frankel: Switch to Turf Likely for Master David

Trainer Bobby Frankel said that Peter Pan third-place finisher Master David came out of the race in good shape, but is extremely unlikely to run in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Frankel said a switch to the turf is likely for the son of Grand Slam.

Rock Hard Ten Goes to Gate School

His connections hope that Rock Hard Ten, who threw a fit prior to being loaded into the starting gate for last week's Preakness (gr. I), could improve on his second-place finish in the race with some improved etiquette in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Valenzuela Weighs Appeal to Ride in Belmont

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who was set to serve out the remaining 30 days for a recent suspension handed to him by the Calng Board during the month of June, is considering filing an appeal that will allow him to ride Mercedes Stables' and Madeleine Paulson's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Rock Hard Ten in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
 

Rock Hard Ten Settles in at Belmont Park

Mercedes Stables' Rock Hard Ten, runner-up to Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. II), has been getting accustomed to his new surroundings at Belmont Park since arriving here Monday. The son of Kris S. is preparing to start in the grade I, $1 million Belmont Stakes June 5 and will attempt to deny Smarty Jones the Visa Triple Crown.

TVG To Provide Live Peter Pan Coverage

TVG will present live coverage of the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) from New York's Belmont Park on Saturday. The Peter Pan is the final major prep race for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Scheduled post time is 4:45 p.m.

The Morning After: Preakness Top Three to Return in Belmont

On the morning following Smarty Jones' record performance in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), trainer John Servis appeared on national television and prepared to move his colt out of Pimlico. Meanwhile, the trainers of Rock Hard Ten and Eddington, the second- and third-place finishers, said they will attempt to upset a Triple Crown bid by going on to the June Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

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