An early morning meeting between Smarty Jones' trainer John Servis and Secretariat's jockey Ron Turcotte provided a touch of history as Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day dawned Saturday.
Moderate rain didn't dampen the enthusiasm of fans at Philadelphia Park, the home of Smarty Jones, the morning of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). People began gathering at the gates to the picnic area at the Bensalem, Pa., racetrack at 5:30 a.m. EDT -- and remember, they can only watch the third leg of the Visa Triple Crown Challenge on television.
Two former jockeys who traveled to Belmont Park for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) are fast becoming the talk of Philadelphia Park and quite popular with some members of the general public in the Delaware Valley, thanks to "The Legend of Smarty Jones."
Despite the strong likelihood of rain for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the skies over Long Island, New York were cloudy early Saturday morning as preparations continued for the classic race later in the day.
Yes, it is blasphemous to even think that Smarty Jones will be beaten in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). But it is still a horse race, and a mile and a half one to boot. And there will be some people who will try to win money and beat the favorite. Although I hate to even suggest that will happen, this column is for them. To all Smarty Jones fans who think this is a lock, read on at your own risk.
Jason Orman, trainer of Preakness (gr. I) runner-up Rock Hard Ten, is taking aim once again at Smarty Jones in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), saying "If we were running for second, we wouldn't be here."
Forecasters upgraded the chance of showers to 60% at Belmont Park Saturday as Smarty Jones goes for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
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."
As Smarty Jones got his bath after gate-schooling and galloping around the Belmont Park oval Friday afternoon, Barn 5 got a little devine intervention: a surprise visit from the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Trainer John Servis is not worried about Smarty Jones getting the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) distance of 1 1/2 miles. But just a few months ago he was worried about the colt going 1 1/4 miles.
On the eve of his date with destiny, Someday Farm's Smarty Jones was schooled in the gate and galloped at Belmont Park in preparation for Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Weather forecasters are predicting a very good day for Belmont Park on Saturday as Smarty Jones tackles the Triple Crown, although there could be scattered showers to go with a high of 58 degrees.
Smarty Jones, not only has captured the imagination of the public, but the hearts of children all over America. Over the past several weeks, letters and drawings have come pouring in to trainer John Servis, who said he plans on answering all of them. Following is a sample of those letters.
With the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Smarty Jones' attempt to sweep the Visa Triple Crown Challenge only two days away, trainer John Servis said he, his family and staff, and owners Roy and Patricia Chapman are getting anxious about the event.
According to Bob Baffert, the toll of the Triple Crown Trail usually manifests itself about a week after the Preakness. There is no sign that the Trail has taken a toll on Smarty Jones.
With a classic-oriented pedigree, Purge can pose a dangerous threat to Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes.
Premiere Radio Networks will deliver the exclusive radio call of Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) from Belmont Park. The one-hour and fifteen-minute broadcast will begin at 6 p.m. EDT with post time scheduled for 6:40.
With a positive forecast and unprecedented interest in Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), officials at the New York Racing Association are bracing for the biggest day in track history.
Shortly before he arrived at Belmont Park after a 2 1/2-hour van ride, Someday Farms' Smarty Jones was installed as the 2-5 morning line favorite when he breaks from the outside nine post position in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
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."
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed both raced at four, enhancing their reputations...
By Susan Baldrige -- It was a simple farm, nothing fancy, with a quaint farmhouse and an old, stone barn with irregularly shaped box stalls. The farm had one tiny sign with a black horse painted on it that quietly announced you were there. That was exactly three years ago.
The numbers, including fractional times, all show Smarty Jones is the best three year old in the country.
The decision on where Smarty Jones will stand at stud should be made within the month, according to George Isaacs, who is acting as the liaison between Roy and Patricia Chapman and stud farm operators in Kentucky bidding for Smarty Jones' services.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Tuesday morning that Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Purge will attempt to disrupt Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid in Saturday's $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Hollywood Park will issue the first 10,000 patrons a free $2 win ticket on Smarty Jones on Saturday as he bids to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Mark Hennig was surprised when Eddington worked a blistering half-mile last week, so for his final Belmont Stakes (gr. I) prep, he equipped the colt with blinkers, put Jerry Bailey up, and worked him in company to see how aggressive he'd be off that last work. He found out when Eddington blazed five furlongs in :59 flat.
Trainer John Servis was the guest speaker and the theme was "Achieving in Spite of Adversity" as Faust Elementary School in Bensalem, Pa., located across the street from Philadelphia Park, celebrated "Smarty Jones Day" in high style.
In his final workout in preparation for a sweep of the Visa Triple Crown Challenge in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Someday Farms' Smarty Jones breezed seven furlongs at Philadelphia Park on Friday.
Smarty Jones and just about anyone or anything connected to him have proven hot commodities in anticipation of a Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid June 5 at Belmont Park.
As Someday Farm's Smarty Jones prepares to make a run at history to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner in next Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the race for his future career as a stallion is rolling like a :21 and change opening quarter. One thing for certain is that in any syndication deal for Smarty Jones will include a stipulation that he will race on after the Triple Crown and may compete as a 4-year-old.
If he stays healthy, Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones is likely to run as a 4-year-old, a Florida horseman who is handling stallion negotiations for the colt's owner says.
TVG will air Smarty Jones' final pre Belmont Stakes (gr. I) workout Friday from Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, Pa. The work will air at 1 p.m. EDT.
The connections of the three Triple Crown winners in the 1970s are all rooting for Smarty Jones to become the 12th winner of the Triple Crown in next Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I.).
Smarty Jones, who stands on the threshold of Triple Crown immortality, will have his one and only all-important work for the mile and a half Belmont Stakes (gr. I) Friday morning at 5:30. Trainer John Servis said he's not looking for anything quick, and is anticipating the colt will go between 1:28 and 1:29.
Oaklawn Park is planning a full-blown 'Smarty Party' for June 5 when the track's adopted son, Smarty Jones, goes for the Visa Triple Crown and second $5-million bonus in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
With Rock Hard Ten having already been trounced by Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), trainer Jason Orman can only hope that the mile and a half distance of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) will help bring the two colts closer together in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Debbie Given, who managed Someday Farm when Smarty Jones was born, recalls the Triple Crown contender as "ornery" as a foal, a characteristic he shared with his dam, I'll Get Along.
If Smarty Jones wins the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, it may be because he has had a little extra help from the "Man upstairs."
Trainer John Servis revealed at a press conference at Philadelphia Park Wednesday that Someday Farm's undefeated Smarty Jones suffered a foot bruise before the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but it quickly cleared up and the colt was able to maintain a normal training schedule.
Little Red, meet Big Red. When Smarty Jones ships to Belmont Park next week, he will be stabled in Barn 5, which was the home of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. The barn is right next door to Barclay Tagg's barn, making Smarty Jones and last year's hero, Funny Cide, temporary neighbors.
Smarty Jones' attempt to sweep the Visa Triple Crown Challenge and the 2004 presidential election have led a central Kentucky horseman to put a lighter touch on both events.
- By Tom LaMarra
Meadowlands, where Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds have raced on the same program, will link the two breeds together June 5 when it offers a special daily double on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and the first race of its evening harness card.
Undefeated Visa Triple Crown Challenge hopeful Smarty Jones galloped at Philadelphia Park the morning of May 25 and was pronounced by trainer John Servis as ready for his May 28 work.
As Smarty Jones attempts to duplicate Seattle Slew's feat as an undefeated Triple Crown winner, the following excerpt from "Seattle Slew," published by Eclipse Press, recounts the weeks and events leading up to Slew's Belmont Stakes victory.
Smarty Jones has been rated the best horse to race anywhere in the world since 1990 by international rating agency Globeform.
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.
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.
Will racing fans be disappointed again in their wait for a Triple Crown winner? The near-misses outnumber the times that racing's most elusive prize has been claimed.
Prompted by Smarty Jones' immensely popular run at the Visa Triple Crown, the NTRA, NYRA, and ESPN have put together an extensive block of Belmont week programming.
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