Smarty Jones, in his stall at Belmont Park.

Smarty Jones, in his stall at Belmont Park.

Skip Dickstein

Servis and Team 'Anxious' About Saturday's Belmont

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. Servis said that the long campaign that began in January has taken its toll on all involved with the son of Elusive Quality  and they are eager for the Belmont to be over.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Smarty Jones is the 2-5 morning line favorite for Saturday's Belmont.

"I think the whole team wishes the race was today," Servis said Thursday morning after his colt went to the track at Belmont Park for the first time since his arrival Wednesday. "It's a grueling road. It's taken its toll on the horse, the help, and the owners. The Kentucky Derby was the goal and we did that. We had talked about maybe not running in the Preakness. The fact we may win the Triple Crown is not something we looked forward to (at the start of the Triple Crown season). Now we have a shot to make history and everybody is shocked. The fact we may make history has everybody a little anxious. WeÍve been so busy, it's all going to come crashing down Saturday, come win, lose or draw."

With a large media contingent on hand, Smarty Jones went to the track shortly before 6 a.m.

Smarty Jones left the barn with exercise rider Pete Van Trump aboard and stable pony Butterscotch, with Servis up. New York Racing Association security personnel had to make sure the horde of photographers gave the horses plenty of room to get through. Noting that the efforts were not going well, Servis quipped, "That's OK. He doesn't kick too hard."

With Roy Chapman looking on from the his wheelchair positioned at the gap leading to the track, the Servis horses went onto the track and stood quietly before beginning a light jog. As Smarty Jones jogged around the track, Servis, on his stable pony, kept a tight hold on the colt's reins.

The exercise was routine and there were no problems, with Smarty Jones returning to the barn for a bath.

"The horse went great today," Servis said. "Everything is right on schedule. He likes the track. He bounced over it like he did at Churchill. It was great for the Chapmans to be able to come out this morning. They love the horses, have been around them all their lives."

Servis said his Belmont preparation will be completed when Smarty Jones is schooled in the gate Friday. "Other than schooling in the gate (Friday) the work is pretty much done," Servis said.