Weather forecasters are predicting a very good day for Belmont Park on Saturday as Smarty Jones tackles the Triple Crown, although there could be scattered showers to go with a high of 58 degrees.
Smarty Jones, not only has captured the imagination of the public, but the hearts of children all over America. Over the past several weeks, letters and drawings have come pouring in to trainer John Servis, who said he plans on answering all of them. Following is a sample of those letters.
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.
According to Bob Baffert, the toll of the Triple Crown Trail usually manifests itself about a week after the Preakness. There is no sign that the Trail has taken a toll on Smarty Jones.
Many horses have been "hyped", then failed to meet the high standards set for them. One horse that has been "hyped" is Eddington, a chestnut son of Unbridled. Only, this time, you can say "believe the hype".
With a classic-oriented pedigree, Purge can pose a dangerous threat to Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes.
With a positive forecast and unprecedented interest in Smarty Jones' Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), officials at the New York Racing Association are bracing for the biggest day in track history.
Shortly before he arrived at Belmont Park after a 2 1/2-hour van ride, Someday Farms' Smarty Jones was installed as the 2-5 morning line favorite when he breaks from the outside nine post position in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
It's not easy playing the role of villain in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). They're the guys wearing the black hats, the party poopers, the evil-doers of the Triple Crown. In the last 35 years, there have been three Triple Crown winners, and 11 horses that fell short in the 1 1/2-mile "Test of a Champion."
The numbers, including fractional times, all show Smarty Jones is the best three year old in the country.
The decision on where Smarty Jones will stand at stud should be made within the month, according to George Isaacs, who is acting as the liaison between Roy and Patricia Chapman and stud farm operators in Kentucky bidding for Smarty Jones' services.
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).
Hollywood Park will issue the first 10,000 patrons a free $2 win ticket on Smarty Jones on Saturday as he bids to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
With Visa Triple Crown Challenge contender Smarty Jones biding his time at Philadelphia Park until mid-week, three colts who will attempt to pull an upset in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) worked five-eighths of a mile at Belmont Park Monday.
Mark Hennig was surprised when Eddington worked a blistering half-mile last week, so for his final Belmont Stakes (gr. I) prep, he equipped the colt with blinkers, put Jerry Bailey up, and worked him in company to see how aggressive he'd be off that last work. He found out when Eddington blazed five furlongs in :59 flat.
Veteran jockey Ramon Dominguez, leading rider in the nation last year with 453 trips to the winner's circle, has been named as the jockey aboard surprise starter Caiman for Saturday's 135th running of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Tapit will not run in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr.I), it was reported on trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm web site Saturday. With Tapit's defection, as well as the defection of The Cliff's Edge, the connections of Purge and Master David are considering entering, although both are still doubtful starters.
Trainer John Servis was the guest speaker and the theme was "Achieving in Spite of Adversity" as Faust Elementary School in Bensalem, Pa., located across the street from Philadelphia Park, celebrated "Smarty Jones Day" in high style.
In his final workout in preparation for a sweep of the Visa Triple Crown Challenge in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Someday Farms' Smarty Jones breezed seven furlongs at Philadelphia Park on Friday.
Smarty Jones and just about anyone or anything connected to him have proven hot commodities in anticipation of a Visa Triple Crown Challenge bid June 5 at Belmont Park.
As Someday Farm's Smarty Jones prepares to make a run at history to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner in next Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the race for his future career as a stallion is rolling like a :21 and change opening quarter. One thing for certain is that in any syndication deal for Smarty Jones will include a stipulation that he will race on after the Triple Crown and may compete as a 4-year-old.
If he stays healthy, Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones is likely to run as a 4-year-old, a Florida horseman who is handling stallion negotiations for the colt's owner says.
TVG will air Smarty Jones' final pre Belmont Stakes (gr. I) workout Friday from Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, Pa. The work will air at 1 p.m. EDT.
The connections of the three Triple Crown winners in the 1970s are all rooting for Smarty Jones to become the 12th winner of the Triple Crown in next Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I.).
Willmott Stables' Eddington returned to the track for the first time since working a half-mile in :46 2/5 Monday. The son of 1990 Belmont Stakes favorite Unbridled will try to fare better than his sire did 14 years ago when he finished fourth behind Go And Go.
Smarty Jones, who stands on the threshold of Triple Crown immortality, will have his one and only all-important work for the mile and a half Belmont Stakes (gr. I) Friday morning at 5:30. Trainer John Servis said he's not looking for anything quick, and is anticipating the colt will go between 1:28 and 1:29.
The past performances certainly indicate that Smarty Jones should win the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and become racing 12th Triple Crown winner. But then there is the X-factor, Tapit, who looks to be the unknown quantity that could turn the past performances upside down.
Oaklawn Park is planning a full-blown 'Smarty Party' for June 5 when the track's adopted son, Smarty Jones, goes for the Visa Triple Crown and second $5-million bonus in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
With Rock Hard Ten having already been trounced by Smarty Jones in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), trainer Jason Orman can only hope that the mile and a half distance of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) will help bring the two colts closer together in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Debbie Given, who managed Someday Farm when Smarty Jones was born, recalls the Triple Crown contender as "ornery" as a foal, a characteristic he shared with his dam, I'll Get Along.
If Smarty Jones wins the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, it may be because he has had a little extra help from the "Man upstairs."
Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Tapit breezed six furlongs on the turf at Tapeta Farm Wednesday, four days after breezing a slow five furlongs in 1:07 2/5 on the dirt. Working in company with two other horses, Tapit was timed in 1:15 2/5.
Trainer John Servis revealed at a press conference at Philadelphia Park Wednesday that Someday Farm's undefeated Smarty Jones suffered a foot bruise before the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), but it quickly cleared up and the colt was able to maintain a normal training schedule.
Little Red, meet Big Red. When Smarty Jones ships to Belmont Park next week, he will be stabled in Barn 5, which was the home of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. The barn is right next door to Barclay Tagg's barn, making Smarty Jones and last year's hero, Funny Cide, temporary neighbors.
Smarty Jones' attempt to sweep the Visa Triple Crown Challenge and the 2004 presidential election have led a central Kentucky horseman to put a lighter touch on both events.
Trainer Nick Zito says he has until Saturday to get a work into The Cliff's Edge, who suffered a foot bruise before the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), or he will be forced to miss the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The son of Gulch's problems started when he lost both his front shoes during the running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
It took Rock Hard Ten three tries, but he finally worked Tuesday morning for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with jockey Pat Valenzuela, who may or may not ride the colt in the Belmont, aboard. Even the distance and time of the work are uncertain, depending on how you look at it.
Undefeated Visa Triple Crown Challenge hopeful Smarty Jones galloped at Philadelphia Park the morning of May 25 and was pronounced by trainer John Servis as ready for his May 28 work.
As Smarty Jones attempts to duplicate Seattle Slew's feat as an undefeated Triple Crown winner, the following excerpt from "Seattle Slew," published by Eclipse Press, recounts the weeks and events leading up to Slew's Belmont Stakes victory.
Smarty Jones has been rated the best horse to race anywhere in the world since 1990 by international rating agency Globeform.
Will racing fans be disappointed again in their wait for a Triple Crown winner? The near-misses outnumber the times that racing's most elusive prize has been claimed.
Prompted by Smarty Jones' immensely popular run at the Visa Triple Crown, the NTRA, NYRA, and ESPN have put together an extensive block of Belmont week programming.
John Servis is a longtime Philadelphia Flyers fan, and he "wasn't happy" to see his hockey team eliminated in the Stanley Cup playoffs Saturday night. Although he now has Philly's number one sports franchise in Smarty Jones, and the almost-fanatical support of the city and all of Pennsylvania, Servis said he's still not feeling any added pressure.
Links to other media reports about Smarty Jones' quest for the Visa Triple Crown in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
"Chapman Ford, home of Smarty Jones, how may I direct your call?" That is the greeting people receive when they call the Chapman Ford dealership on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia, indicating life is not exactly the same around the showroom since Smarty Fever hit the City of Brotherly Love.
The New York Racing Association is making more seats available for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in which Smarty Jones will attempt to win the Visa Triple Crown.
Trainer Bobby Frankel said that Peter Pan third-place finisher Master David came out of the race in good shape, but is extremely unlikely to run in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Frankel said a switch to the turf is likely for the son of Grand Slam.
Jockey John Velazquez got the high-spirited colt Purge to relax while racing on the outside of the pacesetters and the colt responded to the easy handling with a quarter-mile to go to register a sparkling victory in the $200,000 Peter Pan (gr. II) at Belmont Park Saturday.
His connections hope that Rock Hard Ten, who threw a fit prior to being loaded into the starting gate for last week's Preakness (gr. I), could improve on his second-place finish in the race with some improved etiquette in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Marylou Whitney's Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track Saturday morning.
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