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Top two iffy on Belmont

Joe Orseno, trainer of Preakness winner Red Bullet, knows his colt will have a rubber match against Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. It just might not be in the 1{-mile Belmont Stakes.

"There will be a good showdown somewhere along the line," Orseno said Sunday. "We'll sit down in next few days and decide."

Asked about the chance that Frank Stronach's colt would start June 10 in the final race of the Triple Crown, Orseno said: "It's 50-50."

Red Bullet, who finished second to Fusaichi Pegasus in the Wood Memorial April 15 at Aqueduct, then skipped the Derby, was shipped to Belmont Park in New York on Sunday.

Fusaichi Pegasus was scheduled to go to Aqueduct today, where he will remain until trainer Neil Drysdale and owner Faso Sekiguchi of Japan decide whether he will start the Belmont.

Drysdale flew Saturday night to California, where he is based.

"He couldn't handle the track," Drysdale said Saturday after watching his 1-5 favorite finish second, 3} lengths behind 6-1 Red Bullet. "That's the way I saw it, that's the way Kent (jockey Desormeaux) saw it. It was a greasy kind of track, and he just couldn't go with it."

The track, which earlier on a rainy day had been listed as sloppy, was rated good for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

"He's a good horse, and maybe he didn't handle the track," Orseno said of Fusaichi Pegasus, who had a five-race winning streak snapped. "But the track was more or as greasy on the day of the Wood Memorial, and we didn't make excuses."

The Wood Memorial was contested on a rainy day, and the track was called wet-fast.

Red Bullet was beaten by 4\ lengths by Fusaichi Pegasus that day, and Orseno was asked whether, if the margin had been smaller, he and Stronach would have decided to go to the Kentucky Derby.

Orseno said it wasn't the margin, but the way the colt finished that led to the decision to skip the Derby. "He was staggering the last eighth of a mile because of the kind of trip he had."

If Red Bullet does not start in the Belmont, his next race could be the Haskell Handicap in early August at Monmouth Park, followed by the Travers Aug. 26 at Saratoga.

None of the other six Preakness starters is being considered for the Belmont.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who finished seventh with High Yield after running 15th in Derby, said he might start Commendable, 17th in the Derby, in the Belmont.

Others being considered: Derby runner-up Aptitude; Wheelaway, fifth in the Derby; Curule, seventh in the Derby; Tahksodha Hills, third in the Florida Derby and winner of the Lone Star Derby; Unshaded, winner of his last three starts; Globalize, winner of the Turfway Park Spiral; and Chief Seattle, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, who has not started this year.

This will be the first Belmont since 1996 in which no horse has a shot at the Triple Crown. Silver Charm (1997) and Real Quiet (1998) finished second in the Belmont. Charismatic was third last year.

DERBY LANE: Jam Zone won the 1,650-foot Fans' All-Star race Saturday, paying $47.20. Sprint Classic winner Greys Starquest ran second. Zone also beat his brother, Last Word Wally, who was the top greyhound last year, Night of Stars winner ICU Thunderbolt, Craigie Whistler and JB Junior B. Flying Waterford won the second race in which the field was voted on by fans, covering the three-eighths mile in 37.44. Waterford, scratched from Round 1 of the $100,000 Distance Classic this year, beat Distance winner Greys Free Style and runner-up Dominator, both of whom finished out of the money. Irish Derby winner Spring Time is competing in the English Derby, with the second round Tuesday night in London. Greyhounds compete in Scotland, London (June 3) and Dublin in their equivalent of horse racing's Triple Crown. Spring Time is one of the few females to win the Irish Derby. Kennel standings, 9C.

_ Correspondent Vera Filipelli contributed to this report.