Nine Possible for Belmont Stakes

The field for the 137th Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on June 11 is slowly taking shape, with at least nine 3-year-olds pointing for the third leg of the Triple Crown. The 1 1/2-mile "Test of the Champion" will be headed by Preakness (gr. I) winner Afleet Alex and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo.

Afleet Alex was originally scheduled to van to Belmont Park last Saturday following his morning jog. But with a suspected case of strangles being investigated there, trainer Tim Ritchey decided to play it safe and keep the son of Northern Afleet  at Pimlico, and work him on Wednesday. He will then decide when to ship to Belmont, depending on whether or not the strangles situation is under control.

Out in California, Giacomo breezed seven furlongs in 1:27 at Hollywood Park May 30, and trainer John Shirreffs indicated they are leaning toward heading back east for the Belmont Stakes.

If last Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) produces a Belmont starter it likely will not be the runaway winner, Oratory, owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable. The colt's connections feel the Belmont comes too close to the Peter Pan, in which Oratory earned a lofty 114 Beyer Speed figure.

The two Belmont possibles coming out of the Peter Pan are runner-up Reverberate and the beaten favorite Chekhov, who made a good run on the turn only to flatten out in the stretch. But the $3.3 million Pulpit colt had trouble leaving the gate and put in a strong move, having only a maiden victory to his credit. Reverberate pushed the winner most of the way, and although he was no match for him down the stretch, he did finish well clear of the third horse.

Also pointing for the Belmont are the Nick Zito pair of Andromeda's Hero, eighth in the Kentucky Derby, and Pinpoint, winner of the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard. Lone Star Derby (gr. III) winner Southern Africa is considered a definite, and Wayne Lukas may run his recent maiden winner A.P. Arrow.

Santa Anita Derby (gr. ) winner Buzzards Bay had been considered a definite starter, but trainer Jeff Mullins said, following the colt's :57 2/5 work, that they were passing the race.