Keeping Up With the
Just how good is Smarty
Jones? Will the contender for the triple crown show up tomorrow, or
will it be just another pretender? Unless a completely different
horse is on Belmont's track tomorrow, Smarty seems like the
strongest contender to win it all since Spectacular Bid in 1979. But
remember: it didn't work out for the Bid and it's possible it may
not for Smarty Jones ' it's a long way around that Elmont, New York
oval. The Belmont should really be called the 'Dream Trasher'
Looking at the contender
ratings, there's only one horse who even appears to be remotely in
Smarty Jones' ballpark, and that's the probable second-favorite,
Purge. It looks like Smarty took Purge's measure in the Arkansas
Derby and disposed of him handily. But you can make an excuse for
Purge in that he might not have liked the muddy track. Also, you
have to be careful with the form of quality three-year-olds. Their
ability is still developing, and they can show dramatic,
never-before-seen improvement. Still, Smarty has to be the strong
choice. The only other horse I would include in the betting line
would be Rock Hard Ten ' he's earned the right to be taken
seriously. He's lightly raced, and as such falls into the category
of an 'unknown ceiling' horse. We don't yet know just how good he is
(except that we know he wasn't as good as Smarty Jones in the
No surprises here ' I
like the top three favorites in the same order as the morning line.
I give Smarty Jones a 60% chance to win, which is about as high a
probability as I ever give in a betting line. The way I see this
triple crown, we made our money when there was money to be made ' in
the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness was, from my perspective, a race
where the underlays won (as most races are). The Belmont will
probably be the same ' good for nothing from a bettor's perspective,
but great from a fan's perspective. I'll watch and hope for Smarty
Jones to win to break the curse and make my $2 souvenir tickets on
him worth something someday.
Here's a reprint of our Belmont Booze feature of several years past. Here's mud in your eye!:
Not to be outdone by Churchill and their mint juleps, Belmont Park has announced that the Belmont Breeze is the official toast of champions for the 2001 Belmont Stakes. (I don't know if that means it will also be the official toast of champions for the 2002 Belmont Stakes ' the trouble with traditions is they take so dang long to become traditional.)
Anyway, this delightful concoction was created by Dale DeGroff, head bartender at Manhattan's Rainbow Room/Windows on the World. Says Mr. DeGroff, "One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak. I wanted to use a spirit that has significance in New York, so I chose rye whiskey. New York has always been a big rye town, and it was one of the first spirits to be distilled in quantity in America, by none other than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I wanted a drink that would appeal to a wide audience, which can be difficult with rye. So, I introduced another flavor to cut the strength and bite of the rye. I chose Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry and finished with a combination that is the base of the most popular drinks in the last 10 years, cranberry and citrus."
Here's the recipe:
' 1 1/2 ounces Seagram's 7 (or good, blended
Shake the first six ingredients with ice, then top with half 7-Up and half club soda. Garnish with fresh strawberry, mint sprig and lemon wedge, and drink after you make your bets, not before.
In my ongoing quest to promote alcoholism and deepen the stereotype of horseplayers as half-drunk losers, I plan to inaugurate special mixed drinks for all kinds of races. The third race at Hollywood, a maiden-claiming $32,000: the Harvey Wallbanger. The fourth race, a two-year old $50,000 claimer, the Goose Joose. You get the idea.NC
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