Purge Confirmed for Belmont; Nine-Horse Field Possible

Purge Confirmed for Belmont; Nine-Horse Field Possible
Photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Peter Pan winner Purge will run in the Belmont Stakes.
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).

"It is a grade I classic for a million dollars, we have a horse who has run well over the track and is training well here at his home," Pletcher said of the reasoning behind why the Pulpit colt will be entered to run against Smarty Jones, who is seeking to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. "He (Purge) is a nice horse. If we're wrong and he comes out of the Belmont in good shape, we will point for something else."

The winner of three of five starts, Purge has faced Smarty Jones twice, finishing second in the colt's Rebel Stakes (gr. II) and running fifth in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I).

Purge, who races for Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 at Belmont Park on Monday.

With Purge added to the Belmont, nine 3-year-olds are still under consideration for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

The probable field consists of Birdstone, eighth in Smarty Jones' Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victory; Illinois-based Caiman, the winner of four of eight starts; Eddington, who most recently was third behind Smarty Jones and Rock Hard Ten in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I); Purge; Rock Hard Ten; Sir Barton Stakes winner Royal Assault; Smarty Jones; and Tap Dancer, fourth in the Sir Barton. Trainer Bobby Frankel, who was expected at Belmont Park later Tuesday, is still undecided on whether Sham Stakes winner Master David will contest the Belmont.

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