08/24/2005 12:00AM

Bellamy Road draws rail for Travers


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The presence of Bellamy Road in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Travers provides several of his opponents' riders with a dilemma: How long do you wait before you go after him?

Bellamy Road is certainly the main speed of the race, and his front-running cause was aided when he drew the rail for Saturday's Travers, the marquee race of this 36-day meet. As expected, seven horses entered the Travers when post positions were drawn Wednesday morning in the Saratoga paddock.

Though Bellamy Road has not run in 112 days and is coming off an injury, New York Racing Association linemaker Eric Donovan installed him as the 2-1 morning-line favorite against Haskell winner Roman Ruler (5-2) and Jim Dandy winner Flower Alley (3-1). Reverberate, Don't Get Mad, Chekhov, and Andromeda's Hero complete the field.

Bellamy Road was made the favorite based primarily on his brilliant performance in the Wood Memorial, a race in which he went to the front, set extremely fast fractions, and widened to a 17 1/2-length victory while equaling a 32-year-old Aqueduct record for nine furlongs. A month before the Wood, Bellamy Road won a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

Bellamy Road has not run since finishing seventh as the favorite in the May 7 Kentucky Derby. He came out of that race with two popped splint bones, an inflammation of tissue that overlies the cannon bone. Trainer Nick Zito said he believes Bellamy Road is fit enough. His opponents are not so sure.

"You have to respect him for who he is and what he's done, but you also have to keep in the back of your mind the way he has approached this race," said Jerry Bailey, the rider of Roman Ruler, referring to the fact that Bellamy Road was also being considered for the seven-furlong King's Bishop. "You don't want to tie into a horse too soon if you think he might bottom out in the middle of the stretch or at the quarter pole.

"If you think a horse is dead fit and he's on the lead, you might go after him early if you don't want him to get away from you," he said. "I'm not convinced he's dead fit, so I don't want to compromise my chances by going too early with him, but I respect him enough to where I can't let him get away."

John Velazquez, the rider of Flower Alley, may have two dilemmas: He figures to be on the horse running second in the early stages, but he also has to be aware of where Bailey is aboard Roman Ruler, whom Velazquez believes is the horse to beat.

"Bailey's going to be watching me, I'm going to be watching [Bellamy Road]," said Velazquez, whose horse breaks from post 7. "I'm pretty sure Jerry is going to put the pressure on a little bit early and make me go with him. If [Bellamy Road] is in front by five, I'm just going to leave him alone, and when Jerry comes to me, we'll both use our horse at the same time instead of me trying to get after him."

Jose Santos will probably take up a stalking position aboard Reverberate. He said he doesn't think Velazquez will let Bellamy Road get too far away from him early.

"Nobody's going to let him open up two or three lengths. Nobody can catch him then," Santos said. "Sometimes good horses, even though they're going fast in the beginning, they're going to keep going."

The jockey who may have the least to worry about is Edgar Prado, who rides the late-running Don't Get Mad, who breaks from post 5.

"I can't change my horse's style," Prado said. "It won't be my job this time."