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The Belmont

Purge tries not to triple displeasure in Belmont Stakes

By Associated Press
Published June 1, 2004

NEW YORK - Purge is poised to take on Smarty Jones again, this time in the Belmont Stakes.

The two-time loser to the Triple Crown threat will be out to avenge losses in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said owner Jack Wolf "is leaning toward wanting to run," with a final decision today, a day after Purge worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 at Belmont.

Purge is coming off a dominating 63/4-length win in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 22, a 11/8-mile race in which he pulled away from the likes of Friends Lake, Master David and Swingforthefences.

"The work went perfectly," Pletcher said after Purge breezed in company with Savoy Special. "The idea was that we wanted to sit behind another horse and see how he reacted to that and how kind he was.

"I liked the way he sat behind the other horses."

The colt is 3-for-3 in races without Smarty Jones.

HARD RUN: Preakness runnerup Rock Hard Ten had his final tuneup for the Belmont, working an uneventful 5 furlongs in 59 seconds with exercise rider John Byrne aboard. The colt worked in company with Sarava, the 2002 Belmont Stakes winner. "He was just cruising," trainer Jason Orman said. "I've never seen him work as good as he did today." Last week, the temperamental Rock Hard Ten balked twice before completing a workout.

THE JONES REPORT: Smarty Jones galloped 11/8 miles at Philadelphia Park on Monday and will be vanned to Belmont on Wednesday morning. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner galloped alongside Butterscotch, trainer John Servis' pony. "He was just aching to go," Servis said. "He pulled me around every step of the way. My hand and arm were so tired when we got back to the barn I couldn't even drink my coffee."

MET MILE: So much for Azeri beating the boys, or Funny Cide returning to classic form. Neither Azeri nor Funny Cide put up much of a fight in the Metropolitan Handicap, with Pico Central taking charge in the stretch and beating Bowman's Band by three-quarters of a length in the rain at Belmont Park. Azeri, the 2002 horse of the year, finished eighth in her first start against males. Funny Cide, last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, was fifth in his first race at Belmont since finishing third in his Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes.

[Last modified June 2, 2004, 20:06:06]


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