05/21/2004 11:00PM

Belmont not in Purge's plans

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Purge, under John Velazquez, pulls away in the Peter Pan. He won't go on to the Belmont Stakes, however, to face Smarty Jones for a third time.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Even without leaving Philadelphia Park on Saturday afternoon, Smarty Jones was a big winner.

Purge, a horse Smarty Jones toyed with twice in Arkansas, romped to a 6 3/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 before 7,557 at Belmont Park. Afterward, the connections of Purge and the nine other horses in the field indicated they would run not back in the June 5 Belmont Stakes, where Smarty Jones will try to become Thoroughbred racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.

If that's true, then Smarty Jones will likely face just six rivals in the Belmont: Rock Hard Ten, Eddington, Tapit, Royal Assault, Birdstone, and, if healthy, The Cliff's Edge.

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent Purge to Arkansas last winter because he felt it would be the easiest route to try and make a run for the Triple Crown. Little did Pletcher know he would be sending Purge against "one of the best 3-year-olds we've seen in a long time,'' Pletcher said.

There was no such 3-year-old in the Peter Pan. Pletcher was hoping Purge would relax in the Arkansas Derby, but the horse was too rank, set the pace, and was beaten 7 1/4 lengths by Smarty Jones.

Saturday, breaking from post 10 under John Velazquez, Purge settled into third position early on behind Sinister G and Intimidator, who dueled through a half-mile run in 46.05 seconds. Purge made a four-wide move around the turn, made the lead approaching the quarter pole and drew clear through the stretch. Purge ($6.80) covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.98.

Swingforthefences rallied to be second 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Master David, the 8-5 favorite, who rallied from last.

While obviously pleased with the victory, Pletcher said he wasn't using this race as a prep for the Belmont and would most likely point Purge to the $150,000 Dwyer on July 11 unless the Belmont field radically changed.

Skipping the Belmont was a sentiment echoed by all the other horsemen in the Peter Pan. Rick Violette, trainer of Swingforthefences said "there are other spots we can go to without running into Smarty Jones and Purge.''

Though Master David closed well to be third, his lack of interest early in the Peter Pan baffled owner Peter Minikes. Asked about the Belmont, Minikes said, "I don't think so. Would you run off that?''

The biggest disappointment of the Peter Pan was Friends Lake, the Florida Derby winner who was never involved in the race and finished seventh, beaten 15 1/4 lengths.

"He's not going anywhere off a race like that,'' trainer John Kimmel said. "The horse needed to show [something] and he didn't show up.''