By DAVE SCHEIBER, Times wires
Published June 4, 2004
NEW YORK - The hottest ticket in town is a Belmont Park seat for Smarty Jones' bid for the Triple Crown on Saturday afternoon.
All 21,000 permanent grandstand and clubhouse seats were sold out by March 31. The public got 37 percent of those through an annual lottery. The balance went to large groups, corporate sponsors, season-ticket holders, horsemen and the media.
Belmont added 5,000 temporary seats and those were quickly snapped up in April.
The tickets, which carry a face value of $9 to $45, were drawing bids of more than $400 for a pair Thursday morning on eBay, the Internet auction site.
Anyone without seats can still come to Belmont for $2 general admission.
LOOKING AHEAD: Trainer John Servis said plans are for Smarty to continue racing next year, if he remains healthy. "I would think his first race back could be the Haskell (at Monmouth Aug. 8). It could even be as late as the Pennsylvania Derby (at Philadelphia Park Sept. 6). Servis was pleased with how his horse handled the track during a Thursday morning workout. "He seemed to really like it. He bounced over it kind of like he did Churchill (Downs). I'm really happy with him."
IN DEMAND: Servis said there was no truth to a rumor that after the Preakness, he had received a call inviting Smarty to the White House. He said the Phillies have called him, however, inviting Smarty to jog around the infield if he wins Saturday.
AROUND THE TRACK: Stewart Elliott, Smarty Jones' jockey, won't arrive until Saturday. He has riding commitments this afternoon at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. ... A victory would make Smarty Jones the richest North American thoroughbred with more than $13-million.