Rock Hard Ten Settles in at Belmont Park

(Edited Belmont Park notes)

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.

"He's doing really good," said trainer Jason Orman. "He'll go to the track tomorrow to jog and he'll gallop on Friday. He seems to be pretty happy at Belmont."

For Orman, a native of Canada who is now based in California, this is his first trip to Belmont Park in nine years. The 35-year-old son of trainer Mike Orman was with his father's charge Lake George in 1995 preparing for a start in the Lawrence Realization. Lake George never ran here because of poor weather conditions that year.

"We thought it would be a lot easier to ship him up here from Pimlico instead of flying him back to California, then back east for the Belmont," Orman said of Rock Hard Ten, who was beaten a head in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 3 by Castledale, but was disqualified and placed third.

Orman thinks his colt will definitely improve in the Belmont. Rock Hard Ten, who won his February 7 debut, could be the second choice in the Belmont.

"I thought he ran great in the Preakness," Orman said of his colt's 11 1/2-length defeat. "He probably needed that race. That was his first start in six weeks and he only ran three times before.

"The added distance will help and the fact that he's more experienced will help. Smarty Jones' last race was unbelievable, but it's very tough for horses to put two great races back to back. He might not run as good as he did in the Preakness or he might improve."

Orman departs for California on Thursday, but will rejoin the son of Kris S. at Belmont on Sunday and will remain in New York through the Belmont Stakes.