Belmont Roundup: Where the Other Horses Are Going

Editor's note: Edited from NYRA release; notes on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runners other than the Nick Zito-trainer Birdstone and Royal Assault and Smarty Jones, which have been reported in other stories.

Eddington came out of the Belmont Stakes without any problems, but the fourth-place finisher in the "Test of the Champion" continues to be a work in progress for trainer Mark Hennig.

"He's got plenty of talent and there are a lot of races ahead for him," Hennig said. "He'll continue to grow and mature and, hopefully, he will get it together one of these days."

Birdstone won the Belmont Stakes, defeating Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones by a length in 2:27 2/5 in front of a record crowd of 120,139. The true story, however, was in the fractions of :24 1/5; :48 3/5; 1:11 3/5; 1:35 2/5 and 2:00 2/5.3˜4

"That second half-mile, especially that third quarter of a mile, went very fast, and I think it helped take the starch out of Smarty Jones," Hennig said. "I think it cooked a lot of horses that tried to make a run at Smarty Jones. It certainly cooked us and Rock Hard Ten, and it softened Smarty Jones."

Rock Hard Ten
Rock Hard Ten briefly acted up at the gate before the start of Saturday's Belmont Stakes, so he was blindfolded and then loaded. He was involved in the wickedly fast third quarter of a mile and back up to finish fifth.

"I thought we moved too early, and then, with five-eighths to go, we got into a drive with Smarty Jones," said trainer Jason Orman. "I'm not saying we would have won, but we could have been second or third. We probably didn't help Smarty Jones, either. He might have won if he hadn't moved with us.

"I don't think the gate was a factor. NYRA's gate crew had worked with him for days, and they were very patient with him. He balked with the crowd and all, but after he balked a few times, they just put a blindfold on him and he was fine. They really did a great job."

Orman said Rock Hard Ten would be given a rest before a new campaign is planned.

"He was a little tired this morning, but he is fine," Orman said. 'We'll both leave tormorrow (Monday)."3˜4

Tap Dancer
Tap Dancer was entered in the Belmont Stakes mainly because trainer Ned Allard liked the distance for the Sword Dance colt. But things did not go exactly according to Allard's plan, as he checked in sixth.

"He got jumped on going into the first turn, and tore off the bandages on his left-hind leg," Allard said. "It looked like he was going to make a little bit of a run, but it never quite happened. I'm not using having his bandages torn off as an excuse. There was a lot of blood after the race, but once we looked at it closely, it was pretty superficial."

Tap Dancer left Belmont Park at around 2 a.m. and arrived early this morning at Philadelphia Park.

"We took our shot, and I'm glad we did," Allard said. "Now, we'll re-group and look over the right spots for him."

Despite a steady rain Sunday morning, Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel was thinking about the turf for Master David, who defeated only Vaiman and Purge in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

"All my horses came back fine, and I'll try Master David on the turf next," Frankel said. "He's bred for it and it gives us more options."

With a fickle weather forecast going into the Belmont Stakes -- the rain held off until well after the 13-race card was completed -- Frankel had cross-entered Master David in today's grade III Hill Prince for three-year-olds at nine furlongs for the main track only.

Caiman beat only Purge in the Belmont Stakes, and it appears that trainer Angel Medina will go back to his original plan of keeping him on the grass.

"He looked pefect in his stall this morning," Medina said. "I don't know what happened in the race. He was going fine and then lost all chance. He's a better horse on grass."

Long a resident of South Florida, Medina moved a string to Hawthorne Park and plans to campaign Caiman in the Mid-America Triple turf at Arlington Park, which begins with the Grade 2 Arlington Classic at eight and a half furlongs on July 3; continues with the Grade 2 American Derby at nine and a half furlongs on July 24; and concludes with the Grade 1 Secretariat at 10 furlongs on August 14.

His horses all came back healthy, but that wasn't enough to make trainer Todd Pletcher happy. He was especially disappointed with the performance of Purge, who ran last in the Belmont Stakes.

"Purge had a complete meltdown in the paddock," Pletcher said. "Even though i was a cool day, he got over-heated. Then, he went to the track and the crowd really got him. He didn't run his race, so it's back to square one."