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Will Smarty Jones win the Belmont?

The record of horses attempting to win the Triple Crown is poor. It is a demanding task that only the best can withstand. There are no cheap Triple Crown winners. Great horses like Alysheba, Spectacular Bid, and Sunday Silence failed in the last leg of the sequence. Smarty Jones has yet to establish the credentials of a Spectacular Bid, who lost just one race after the Belmont, to Triple Crown winner Affirmed in the 1979 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

More recently, five horses have attempted to land the treble: Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, and Funny Cide. Funny Cide himself romped home in the Preakness by nearly 10 lengths. But he had the task of facing Empire Maker in the Belmont, who looked to be the better horse and proved it during the race. Of these five, Silver Charm was indeed a top quality racehorse, and Real Quiet was close behind. Both suffered narrow and somewhat bizarre defeats in the Belmont. Silver Charm cruised by Touch Gold on the turn, loafed a bit in the final furlong, and Touch Gold found another gear to fly by him at the wire. Real Quiet was poorly ridden by Desormeaux who moved too fast too soon, fouled Victory Gallop in the stretch, and was nailed by his nemesis at the wire in the only photo finish to decide a Triple Crown. These two were good ones, just not quite good enough on the day.

Smarty Jones has put himself in that class. He's fast, and does everything the right way. He's proven that he can cruise along effortlessly, quicken when called upon, and stay a distance of ground. The only thing we've yet to see is how he'd respond in a ding dong stretch battle, but that's because he's won his races so easily. It's hard to fault him for that.

There may be another superior horse in this generation - Tapit, Eddington, and Rock Hard Ten all have promise but have yet to put everything together. Perhaps there is another possibility lurking in the shadows. But beating Smarty Jones looks to be a very tough proposition right now. He's holding all the cards at this point, and I think he's going to win.