- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

Scrappy T will bypass Saturday’s 137th Belmont Stakes for a grass race in Virginia. Trainer Robert Bailes decided yesterday the 1-mile Belmont would prove too taxing for the Preakness Stakes runner-up.

“I kept going back and forth on this, and that told me something,” Bailes said.

Bailes was previously “leaning” toward entering the final leg of the Triple Crown after the colt turned in a sharp workout Thursday at Bowie Training Center. However, the Colonial Turf Cup on June25 at Colonial Downs in Providence Forge, Va., is now Scrappy T’s next race.

The Belmont still features a rematch between Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and Preakness victor Afleet Alex. Trainer Nick Zito enters Andromeda’s Hero, Pinpoint and Indy Storm. Chekhov, Southern Africa, A.P. Arrow and Nolan’s Cat also are expected.

Afleet Alex trainer Tim Ritchey dismissed Scrappy T’s loss from an already depleted Belmont field that lacks a Triple Crown contender for the first time in four years. Scrappy T led the Preakness entering the stretch before blocking Afleet Alex in a near fatal mishap before the latter recovered to win.

Asked the impact of Scrappy T’s defection, Ritchey said, “None at all. Afleet Alex still has to run his race.”

Zito’s Birdstone denied Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown bid last year by taking the Belmont. However, the newly elected Hall of Famer has been bedeviled since in the Derby and Preakness, finishing no better than fourth among eight starters.

Indy Storm worked seven-eighths mile in 1:30 at Saratoga to earn a bid after winning an allowance race May21 at Pimlico Race Course. Andromeda’s Hero was eighth in the Derby, while Pinpoint took the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard.

Afleet Alex finally departed Pimlico yesterday after Belmont Park readied a quarantined stakes barn amid worries of an infectious disease in the backstretch that prevented out-of-state shippers from arriving. Track officials said a filly suspected of having strangles tested negative. Still, 28 horses entering weekend’s stakes will be isolated.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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