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Belmont roundup

Smarty Watch reports that the big horse "will be treated like a visiting head of state today when no fewer than three state police departments assist in his transport from Philadelphia Park to Belmont Park." Shoot, as indicated in the post below, why not make him our own head of state?

For the historically minded, trainer Jon Veitch reflects on Alydar's battle with Affirmed. Rick Cushing notes that trainer John Servis was watching closely when Seattle Slew was preparing for his victory in the Belmont Stakes. Jim O'Donnell makes the obligatory comparisons to Secretariat, aided by observations from Big Red's owner Penny Chenery.

Three horses have a chance to ruin Saturday's expected coronation. Horses can progress quickly in the spring of the three year old season, and anyone expecting to beat Smarty will have to have improved a ton since the Preakness. Rock Hard Ten put in a brilliant workout on Monday, and has been getting better handling himself at the gate in the morning. Trainer Mark Hennig has been trying to get Eddington more focused, with encouraging results. Both of these horses are have had racing enthusiasts drooling over their potential this spring, and may be about to show it. In addition, Purge was just learning the game when dusted by Smarty in Arkansas, and his impressive performance in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont two Saturday's ago shows he's come a long way since then.

But so has Smarty Jones. For today's last word, we go to Smarty's trainer, who made an interesting off-the-record comment on the eve of the Derby.

One day in Louisville, talking with a reporter he trusted, Servis said he'd level if the tape recorder was turned off. That's when Servis said: "In three races, they're going to be talking about a colt who's very, very special."

Wish I'd been a fly on the wall for that!

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