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Field for Belmont begins to take shape

If Red Bullet and Fusaichi Pegasus contest the Belmont Stakes, they likely will go against at least seven other challengers.

Trainer Bobby Frankel has been angling Aptitude, the Kentucky Derby runner-up, for the race, and early indications are Globalize, Curule, Chief Seattle, Unshaded, Tahkodha Hills and Tampa Bay Derby winner Wheelaway will follow.

Bob Baffert's Captain Steve almost certainly will not after running out of steam in the stretch on Saturday.

"We tried something different today," the trainer said. "We took him back, and he didn't run at all badly. But this is really too long for him."

The Preakness is run over 1 3/16 miles; the Belmont is 1{ miles.

LOOKING GOOD: Owner Frank Stronach's first Preakness win capped a successful run for the CEO of Magna Entertainment, which owns seven tracks, including Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita.

Stronach, who last week bought Bay Meadows track in California, also won the May 13 Pimlico Special with Golden Missile, making Joe Orseno just the second trainer in the modern era to have Pimlico Special and Preakness winners in the same year.

The Preakness victory also made a Stronach-owned horse a Triple Crown spoiler for the second time. Touch Gold thwarted Silver Charm's quest in 1997, pulling off a Belmont Stakes upset.

"I actually was a bit sad when we beat Silver Charm," Stronach said. "Triple Crowns are great for the sport and we need horse heroes, but this is a competition and you cannot give it to someone on a plate. The sport would lose credibility."

ON THE UNDERCARD: Ecton Park led the entire 1[ miles in winning the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap. Trainer Elliott Walden's 12th-place finisher in the 1999 Kentucky Derby won for the first time in five starts and for the first time under jockey Pat Day. Broken Vow, the only colt in the race not nominated for the Triple Crown series, won the 1 1/16-mile, $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds. Grundlefoot, who finished seventh in the Tampa Bay Derby, rallied for second, three-quarters of a length off the lead. True Confidence, purchased for $1.15-million by Satish Sanan's Padua Stables, was last in the eight-horse field. The day finished in resoundingly bad fashion for Sanan, a Clearwater businessman, when Yes It's True finished seventh of nine in the Grade III, $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup, won by Dr. Max. Quiet Resolve caught Haami in the stretch and won in a photo finish in the Grade II $200,000 Dixie on the turf. Roza Robata, a Florida-bred, won for the first time since August in the Grade III $200,000 Pimlico Distaff.

FREAKNESS: Raw weather ruined the locals' traditional first good sunburn of the year, but 60-degree temperatures and drizzling rain were no hindrance to the city's equivalent of Mardi Gras. About 90,304 jammed into Pimlico, most of them on the infield.

WHAT DO THEY KNOW?: The Sun of Baltimore polled 27 writers covering the race. Only two _ the Sun's Kent Baker and David Grening of the Daily Racing Form _ picked Red Bullet. Some 23 others picked Fusaichi Pegasus.


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