Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold will be an outsider in the Belmont Stakes _ in the gate. Strike the Gold, the early 5-2 favorite, drew the outside post Thursday when 11 3-year-olds were entered for the final race of the Triple Crown. Preakness winner Hansel was the second choice at 3-1 and will start from the No. 5 post.
Adding a touch of mystery to Saturday's 123rd running of the Belmont will be the appearance of Smooth Performance, who arrived in New York on Wednesday from Ireland. The Kentucky-bred son of Seattle Slew has nine starts on grass _ and three victories.
The oddsmaker made the Dermot Weld-trained Smooth Performance the third choice at 6-1, probably based on Weld's last Belmont horse _ 1990 winner Go and Go. Michael Kinane, who rode Go and Go, will be aboard Smooth Performance.
Adding a touch of history is Julie Krone, who will become the first female jockey in the Belmont. She will ride Subordinated Debt.
Strike the Gold, ridden by Chris Antley, was pinned on the rail after starting from the No. 3 hole in the Preakness, where he finished sixth, but trainer Nick Zito was unhappy about drawing the outside post.
There is less than a quarter-mile to establish position before the field hits the first turn.
"Simple instruction, "Take him back to last,' " Zito said. "We've got to save ground. Now maybe we'll see what a special horse he is."
Trainer Frank Brothers agonized over the decision to send Hansel to the Preakness after the colt finished 10th as the favorite in the Derby. Ridden by Jerry Bailey, Hansel won the Preakness by seven lengths.
Brothers apparently had no trouble in deciding to send his colt to the Belmont even though New York bans medication.
Hansel, who suffered pulmonary bleeding during a race in February, has raced on a diuretic, Lasix, in his last five starts.
"We've covered all our bases, and that's all I have to say about it," Brothers said.
The 11-horse field is the largest since the same number started in the 1984 race .
Said Brothers: "It makes it more interesting. Nobody's afraid of anybody."
Zito thinks trainer D. Wayne Lukas might try to steal the race with Corporate Report, who was ninth in the Derby and second in the Preakness under jockey Pat Day.
"He'll open up five or six lengths and then try to control the pace," Zito said. "Mane Minister has medium speed and Scan will show some speed."
Mane Minister finished third in both the Derby and Preakness. Ridden by Alex Solis, he will start from the No. 3 post just outside Scan, who will be ridden by Chris McCarron.
Scan will be making his debut in Triple Crown competition. He has yet to win in five starts, finishing third in the Peter Pan in his last race on May 26 at Belmont.
Also racing in a Triple Crown event for the first time will be Subordinated Debut, who won the Withers on May 8 and was second in the Jersey Derby on May 27.
Derby starters who skipped the Preakness but are back for the Belmont are Green Alligator, Quintana, Lost Mountain and Another Review. Green Alligator and Another Review have not raced since the Derby, but Quintana finished fourth in the Peter Pan, which was won by Lost Mountain.