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Jun 09, 2006

Belmont Stakes attracts field of 12


Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - The 138th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes will take place Saturday at Belmont Park, but the 1 1/2 mile test will not include the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes winner for the first time since 2000.

With Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro recovering from a career-ending injury suffered in the first few yards of the Preakness, and Preakness winner Bernardini resting, a field of 12 three-year-olds will try for the third and final jewel in racing's Triple Crown.

None of those entered for Saturday's "Test of a Champion" ran in both previous Triple Crown races, but Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat and third-place finisher Steppenwolfer will be among the contenders, along with third-place Preakness runner Hemingway's Key.

Bluegrass Cat is the 3-1 morning-line favorite and will start from post nine with jockey John Velazquez. Velazquez is returning from a broken shoulder blade which caused him to miss the first two Triple Crown races.

One of the early Kentucky Derby favorites, Bluegrass Cat began the year with a stakes victory at Tampa Bay Downs after a successful two-year-old season. Owned by WinStar Farm, he was second in the Tampa Bay Derby and fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Trainer Todd Pletcher had Ramon Dominguez in the saddle for the Kentucky Derby, where Bluegrass Cat finished second as a 30-1 longshot. The bay colt has won half his eight career starts for $761,280.

Pletcher also has Peter Pan Stakes winner Sunriver set to go on Saturday. Sunriver will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano and break from post two. The colt is 4-1 in the program for owners Aaron and Marie Jones.

Even though he was third in the Florida Derby to Barbaro, Sunriver was held back from the first legs of the Triple Crown. He has won three of seven lifetime starts with $281,400 in earnings.

Steppenwolfer, is the 9-2 third choice for the Belmont Stakes and will start from post 11 with Robby Albarado riding.

Owned by Robert and Lawana Low, Steppenwolfer prepped for the Run for the Roses at Oaklawn Park where he was second in the Southwest Stakes and Arkansas Derby, and third in the Rebel Stakes, all won by Lawyer Ron.

Trained by Dan Peitz, Steppenwolfer has earned $561,520 with three wins in nine career starts.

Hemingway's Key, is listed at just 15-1 in the morning line but has a couple of Belmont-winning connections.

Jeremy Rose will ride for owner George Steinbrenner and trainer Nick Zito. Rose won last year's Belmont aboard Afleet Alex and Zito took the 2004 edition with Birdstone. The colt will start from post three.

Hemingway's Key has won two of seven career starts for $159,498. He had a difficult time prior to the Preakness. The three-year-old posted a sixth, two eighth-place finishes and an 11th in stakes races earlier this year, keeping him out of the Kentucky Derby.

Wood Memorial winner Bob and John will be sent out by trainer Bob Baffert for Stonerside Stable. Baffert's lone Belmont Stakes victory came in 2001 with Point Given.

Bob and John is 5-1 in the morning line and will break from post four with Garrett Gomez riding. The colt has won four of 10 lifetime starts for $680,070.

Before his Wood Memorial win, Bob and John won the Sham Stakes and was third in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park. A rough trip in the Kentucky Derby resulted in a 17th-place finish.

The late-running Jazil is 10-1 in the program for Saturday. He will start from post eight and be ridden by Fernando Jara. Jazil finished in a dead-heat for fourth with Brother Derek in the Kentucky Derby.

Jazil is owned by Shadwell Farm and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. The colt was seventh in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and second in the Wood Memorial. He has earnings of $272,217 with just one win in seven starts.

Deputy Glitters, the eighth-place horse in the Kentucky Derby, is 15-1 in the morning line. He will be ridden by Barbaro's former jockey, Edgar Prado, and break from post seven.

Prado won this race with Birdstone two years ago and in 2002 with Sarava. Tom Albertrani trains for Joseph Lacombe Stable. Deputy Glitters has two wins in eight starts, including a triumph in the Tampa Bay Derby. He has career earnings of $205,548.

Preakness Stakes starter Platinum Couple and Double Galore are both 30-1 in the morning line. Platinum Couple will be ridden by Jose Espinoza and break from the inside post. Double Galore will start from post 10 with jockey Mike Luzzi.

High Finance is 12-1 in the program and will start from post five with Eibar Coa in the saddle. At 20-1 is Oh So Awesome. He will be ridden by Mike Smith from post six.

Breaking from the far outside post will be Sacred Light and rider Victor Espinoza. Sacred Light is 15-1 in the morning line. Espinoza was on War Emblem in 2002 when the pair failed to capture the Triple Crown, finishing eighth in the Belmont Stakes after a bad start.

Post-time for the Belmont Stakes is set for 6:35 p.m. (et). The winning owner will collect $600,000.

The weather forecast for the Belmont Stakes calls for partly cloudy skies with a few showers, winds from the northwest at 15-20 m.p.h. and a post-time temperature around 65 degrees.

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