Hard Spun was all done in the Belmont

Updated: June 10, 2007, 11:31 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The hard run through the Triple Crown took a demanding toll on Hard Spun on Saturday in the Belmont Stakes.

After finishing a game second in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness, Hard Spun was a distant fourth in the Belmont. The colt, ridden for the first time by Garrett Gomez, was well positioned throughout most of the 1 1/2 -mile race. But in the lane, Hard Spun sputtered and faded as Rags to Riches outdueled Curlin to the wire.

"With a half-mile left, I felt I was in a great spot," Gomez said. "With three furlongs to go, I thought I was money. When it was time for sprinting, he just didn't have the turn of foot the others had."

It was a bittersweet moment for Gomez, who had ridden Rags to Riches in her first four victories this year.

Having made an earlier commitment to ride Hard Spun, Gomez tried unsuccessfully to get back on the filly who made Belmont history.

"I am very proud of the filly," Gomez said. "She's improving leaps and bounds to get up in a race like this. She's a magnificent filly and I am happy to be part of some of her wins."

It was a downbeat ending for trainer Larry Jones, who to this point had thoroughly enjoyed his first run through the Triple Crown.

"Everything seems OK," Jones said. "He's just a little tired. Maybe the fatigue factor starts taking its toll a little more here. There's nothing we can do but lick our wounds and see what happens down the road."

Winging in
The long-distance travel seemed to agree with Tiago, who rallied for third in the Belmont.

After running seventh in the Kentucky Derby, trainer John Shirreffs took the Santa Anita Derby winner back to California to regroup.

The strategy produced a solid effort after a difficult start.

Tiago slammed into the side of the starting gate at the break, sending him bouncing into Imawildandcrazyguy. Tiago fell back to sixth before launching a run that carried him within 5 1/2 lengths of Rags to Riches and Curlin.

"We were very, very happy to hit the board in the race," Shirreffs said. "We were very pleased with the effort. This was a big step for him. He demonstrated that he had the class. With physical talent and maturity, he is just going to get better."

No pace race
C P West and Slew's Tizzy set a crawling pace in the Belmont. They ran the half-mile in 50.14 seconds and covered the first three-quarters in 1:15.32.

Setting slow fractions can be an effective strategy, keeping energy in reserve for the stretch run.

It didn't help this time. C P West finished fifth; Slew's Tizzy was the trailer in the seven-horse field.

"No one wanted to go for the lead, so I asked myself 'Why not?' I sent him and he went up there pretty easily. In the end, we were outrun by the other horses," said Edgar Prado, C P West's jockey.

Greg Fox, the trainer of Slew's Tizzy, wanted a livelier tempo.

"Those were pretty pedestrian fractions for these horses and my horse likes to be free running. That basically set it up for a great finish," Fox said.

Raising funds
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association dispersed $150,000 from the NTRA Charities Barbaro Memorial Fund in the winner's circle following the seventh race.

The first presentation was $100,000 to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. Since 1983, the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has underwritten 230 equine medical research projects at 32 universities for more than $14 million.

The second was $50,000 to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicines Fund for Laminitis Research. Laminitis is the painful, often fatal, hoof disease that caused Barbaro's demise.

NTRA volunteers at Belmont sold commemorative wristbands featuring the phrase "Riding With Barbaro." The blue rubber bracelets, similar to the ones made popular by retired cyclist Lance Armstrong, sold for $2 each with proceeds going to the Barbaro Memorial Fund.

The New York Racing Association -- the operator of Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct -- donated $15,000 to the fund.

Finish lines
Recording artist Michael Amante sang the national anthem before the fifth race on the 13-race card. ... Gomez and Rafael Bejarano arrived late at Belmont from Kentucky as their flight was delayed due to the Federal Aviation Administration computer glitch playing havoc with air schedules. They reported well before the Belmont. ... A light overnight rain did not effect the track conditions. The main track was fast; the turf course firm. ... The crowd was a disappointing 46,870, the smallest since 40,797 in 1996. ... This marked the second time since 2001 that a Belmont winner sired a Belmont winner. A.P. Indy, Rags to Riches' sire, won the race in 1992. Point Given, the 2001 winner, was a son of Thunder Gulch who took the 1995 Belmont.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press