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Horses headed to the Belmont Stakes Don't Have Class

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
May/27/2010

Horses headed to the Belmont Stakes don't exactly exude class. Seven likely starters are seeking their second stakes win.

The seven ran in 27 stakes since January. However, eight of the likely 10-horse field never ran in juvenile stakes. For both years, the total record: 7-5-4 in 32 outings.

Looking back over the past decade, four of six winners went into the Belmont with at least two triumphs, including a pair that had five each despite losing in the Kentucky Derby.

Afleet Alex, third in the 2005 Derby, won twice as a 2-year-old and three times in sophomore stakes, including the Preakness. Point Given, fifth in the '01 Derby, was victorious once in juvenile stakes and four times as a 3-year-old, including the Preakness.

It was no accident they both were the only favorites to live up to their odds the past 10 years.

This year's Preakness winner, Lookin at Lucky, is sitting out the Belmont as is Derby champ Super Saver. That assures a different winner in Triple Crown races for the 14th times since '80.

Rags to Riches won three times in '07 stakes against fillies before capturing the Belmont. Empire Maker won twice in '03, including the Derby.

Horses that skipped the first, second or both those legs of the Triple Crown the past decade triumphed eight times - the same number that sat out only the Preakness.

Nine horses in this year's Belmont didn't run in the Preakness. Only First Dude, runner-up at Pimlico and third in three '10 stakes, is in the hunt.

However, the son of Stephen Got Even is one of three that didn't win a stakes race this year. He also ran third behind Blue Grass victor Stately Victor, who comes off an eighth-place finish in the Derby.

The others are Stay Put, fifth in two Fair Grounds stakes, and Spangled Star, third in the Withers. Neither raced in the Derby or Preakness.

The last horse to capture the Belmont that didn't go in either race was Da' Tara, who led at every call in his 5 ¼-length victory.

Besides Rags to Riches, Sarava followed the same route to take the '02 renewal by 1 ½ lengths and return a record $142.50 for a $2 win ticket. That June 8 produced the largest crowd in the 141-race history: 103,222.

Nick Zito stands a good chance of recording his third victory in the Race for the Carnations, but stills needs a couple more to pass trainer D. Wayne Lukas and tie the late Woody Stephens.

Lukas, who last scored with Commendable in '00, lost his chance at another win when Dublin's connections decided to wait for summer stakes. The son of Afleet Alex would have been the only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races, finishing seventh in the Derby and fifth in the Preakness.

Stephens holds the back-to-back record of five beginning in '82 with Conquistador Cielo and ending in '86 with Danzig Connection. Only Swale in '84 was favored.

The record for the most Belmont winners is eight by James Rowe between 1883 and 1913. Rowe is only one of two horsemen that won the race as a trainer and jockey - he rode Joe Daniels in the sixth Belmont back in 1872.

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