Belmont Stakes Lacks Derby, Preakness Winners

by Greg Melikov

posted on May 27, 2010 in General Discussion, Other Events | 1 Comment >>

The 142nd Belmont Stakes will not have the winning 3-year-old from the Kentucky Derby or Preakness in the field for the second time in five years.

In 2006, Derby champ Barbaro suffered a crippling injury early in the Preakness that proved fatal in early ’07. The winner, Bernardini, didn’t run in the Belmont or Derby. In addition, Jazil, who skipped the Derby and Preakness, won the Belmont.

This time both winners of the two Triple Crown legs are resting before the big summer stakes.

Trainer Todd Pletcher pointed out Derby winner Super Saver has lost weight since mid-March while hitting the board in three of four stakes. Pletcher said the eighth-place finisher in the Preakness would be freshened and pointed to the Jim Dandy on July 31 at Saratoga or the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 1 at Monmouth Park.

Trainer Bob Baffert is giving Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky a break with the Haskell his next likely start. Baffert calls the Belmont “a tough, long race,” according to “I want to keep this horse around.”

While Pletcher won’t have a horse in the Belmont, Baffert probably will — his Lone Star Derby winner Game on Dude is under serious consideration. Should Preakness runner-up First Dude also run June 5, Baffert said the race would shape up as a “Battle of the Dudes.”

Trainer Dale Romans believes his First Dude will “move forward again. The mile and a half suits him and we’re excited to go up there.”

There could be as many as 12 or 13 runners in the Belmont. During the 21st Century, the largest fields were a dozen each in ’06 and ’00. In ’96, Editor’s Note triumphed over 13 challengers.

The largest field the past three decades was 15 in ’83 when Caveat defeated Slew o’ Gold.

Before ’00, the Belmont attracted at least the Derby champ or Preakness winner dating back to ’70 when High Echelon triumphed. Derby winner Dust Commander and Preakness victor Personality, eighth at Churchill Downs, skipped the 102nd Belmont.

The last Derby winner to take the third leg of the Triple Crown was Thunder Gulch, third in the ’95 Preakness. The last Preakness winner to capture the Belmont was Afleet Alex, third in the ’05 Derby.

Since ’95, 10 Derby runners won the Belmont, but only two favorites did since Thunder Gulch: Afleet Alex and Point Given in ’01, who also took the Preakness.

In fact, since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in ’78, only a half-dozen favorites have scored.

Nick Zito, the most successful Belmont trainer in recent memory, could have as many as three entries. He has won the race twice the past six years and saddled six runners-up.

Each winner derailed a horse seeking the Triple Crown: Da’ Tara surprised in ’08 as Big Brown finished out of the money and Birdstone upset Smarty Jones in ’04.

Zito will send out Derby runner-up Ice Box and impressive Dwyer Stakes winner Fly Down. However, the last Dwyer victor to take the Belmont was Conquistador Cielo in ’82.

The trainer might even enter third-place Preakness finisher Jackson Bend, who came out of the race in good shape. “He’s a tough little horse,” Zito said.