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May 21, 2004


By: Joe Girardi

            Last week’s Preakness was nothing short of spectacular when talking about the winner, SMARTY JONES.

The Derby winner entered the Preakness with a perfect 7 for 7 slate but many thought that this would be his toughest

task. He was returning in only two weeks from the Derby, he would have to again change tracks and distance and

there would be a couple of new shooters involved in this edition of the Preakness. With the late scratch of

THE CLIFF’S EDGE, the field was cut down to ten horses with five of those horses skipping the Derby for the

Preakness some not by choice.


new faces in the bunch with ROCK HARD TEN and EDDINGTON having the best shot to challenge SMARTY


            LION HEART, IMPERIALISM, BORREGO and SONG OF THE SWORD were back to try again after failing

in the Derby. With a dry track on board SMARTY JONES would have to answer another question as to whether or

not he could do it over a fast track, new surface and new horses. Well he answered that question with a resounding

yes, scoring by more than 11 lengths and never being asked to run throughout the stretch run. ROCK HARD TEN,

who was thought by many as the top challenger to SMARTY JONES made a strong move into contention on the

turn to draw within three lengths but was left in his impressive wake, struggling behind SMARTY JONES as he drew

away to the victory.

            Although ROCK HARD TEN had a wide trip throughout he was never close finishing well behind the winner

and holding the place spot clear by two lengths. EDDINGTON, who sill races greenly ran well in spots and closed to

finish third by a head over the early leader LION HEART who checked in fourth. The fractions of the race were

reasonable and the time for the race 1:55:2 was more than three seconds off the track record.

            IMPERIALISM, who was up much closer to the pace in the Preakness never made an impact and finished a well

beaten fifth. The rest of the field never made an impact and are just not on the level with the better three year olds.

            Looking forward to the Belmont on June 5th, we have yet another shot at the Triple Crown. This looks to be the

best shot yet since 1979 when SPECTACULAR BID won the first two legs and was odds-on to win the Belmont

before he stepped on a pin the morning of the race and got a bad ride from his jockey Ron Franklin. It looks as though

after the first two legs of this year’s Triple Crown you will need another incident like stepping on a pin if they are

going to beat him this year.

            Although you will probably get a decent amount of horses in the Belmont, somewhere around 10 or 11 there

will not be too many new faces. The horse with the best chance to beat him in the Belmont is TAPIT, trained by

Michael Dickinson “the mad genius” this horse is lightly raced and has shown that he can beat quality fields when

he won the Wood Memorial back in April at Aqueduct. His running style is perfect for the 1 and ½ miles and with

Dickinson training him he will not be short at crunch time, if he is good enough he will get the job done.

            With the excitement built up by SMARTY JONES and his strong following in the Pennsylvania area there is

going to be a huge crowd on Belmont day, some predicting up to 130,000 to 140,000. A win would obviously be a great

boost to the sport and New York racing but either way Belmont Day is going to be one for the ages.


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