06/05/2010 11:00PM

Drosselmeyer rallies to Belmont victory

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Barbara D. Livingston
Drosselmeyer, with Mike Smith riding, wins the Belmont Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The WinStar Farm of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt got another bookend for this year's Triple Crown on Saturday when 13-1 shot Drosselmeyer won the at Belmont Park, five weeks after WinStar won the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver.

In both cases, veteran jockeys with previous classic victories brought successful trainers noteworthy Triple Crown race wins. On Saturday, it was jockey Mike Smith who came home with Drosselmeyer, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott his first victory in a Triple Crown race. In the Derby, it was Calvin Borel who landed the first Derby victory for trainer Todd Pletcher.

For Smith, it was his first victory in the Belmont following previous victories in the Derby and Preakness. He dedicated the win to jockey Richard Migliore, who announced his retirement on Wednesday. Both men were mainstays in the New York jockey colony for years.

At the beginning of this year, Drosselmeyer was considered the leading Kentucky Derby prospect for WinStar. But he took longer to come around than Super Saver, and did not even run well enough, and earn enough graded stakes earnings, to make the Derby field. Following a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, the Belmont was targeted by Mott and WinStar's racing manager, Elliott Walden. They used the Dwyer Stakes on May 8, in which Drosselmeyer finished second, as a prep for the Belmont.

The Belmont finish reversed the order of finish of the Dwyer. In this case, Drosselmeyer ($28) outfinished Fly Down, winning by three-quarters of a length. First Dude, who set the pace until midstretch, finished another neck back in third.

Game On Dude was fourth and was followed, in order, by Uptowncharlybrown, Stay Put, Interactif, Stately Victor, favored Ice Box, Make Music for Me, Dave in Dixie, and Spangled Star.

All starters were scheduled to carry 126 pounds. But Uptowncharlybrown had an eight-pound lead pad that goes under jockey Rajiv Maragh's saddle fall out during the race. He returned with less than the required weight, so Belmont Park stewards disqualified him and placed him last.

Drosselmeyer completed 1 1/2 miles on a fast main track in 2:31.57, the slowest Belmont in 15 years, since Thunder Gulch took 2:32 to complete one lap of Belmont Park's main track in 1995.

As slow as the race was, it took less time than it took singer Jasmin Villegas to complete the Jay-Z song "Empire State of Mind" as the horses warmed up during the post parade.

This year's Belmont did not include the Derby winner, Super Saver, nor the Preakness winner, Lookin At Lucky. That marked the third time in the last 11 runnings that the final leg of the Triple Crown did not include the race winners from either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. This year's Triple Crown had no consistency. Of the nine placings that make up the top three finishers in the three Triple Crown races, only one horse, First Dude, finished in the money twice. He finished second in the Preakness.

It was a warm, summer-like day at Belmont Park, but predicted thunderstorms failed to materialize. A crowd of 45,243 attended, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. She came to cheer on First Dude, who is named after her husband, Todd.

Drosselmeyer had won twice in eight previous starts. Earlier in the week, he had bar shoes on his front feet, which Mott said were to protect tender hooves. Those shoes were removed on Saturday morning, and conventional racing plates were applied. A gorgeous, chestnut-colored colt by Distorted Humor who cost $600,000 as a yearling, Drosselmeyer has a one-paced style that was well-suited to the demanding Belmont distance.

"He's just one-paced, you've got to keep pedalling," Smith said. "I was trying to keep him covered up around the first turn. He was a bit keen."

But Drosselmeyer settled while going down the backstretch, then commenced his rally while wide on the final turn.

"I've ridden here most of my career," said Smith, who is now based in California. "This is the one race that eluded me."

Smith replaced Kent Desormeaux, who had ridden Drosselmeyer in seven of his eight previous starts, including his last five. Mott said he had no problems with what Desormeaux had done, but WinStar, including vice president Elliott Walden, decided to make a change. This was a theme in this year's Triple Crown. Lookin At Lucky won the Preakness with Martin Garcia, who replaced Garrett Gomez following a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby.

"He always keeps coming," Mott said. "He had been closing going a mile and an eighth. He had some trips, but he didn't get the golden trip. He got a nice, smooth trip today. He circled horses, and kept the momentum going."

Mott's best previous finish in a Triple Crown race had been a second with the longshot Vision and Verse in the 1999 Belmont. He saddled Victory Gallop in 1998 when he won the race for Walden, who trained at the time but was hobbled that week after breaking his ankle in a pickup basketball game.

For trainer Nick Zito, the second-place finish by Fly Down marked the seventh time Zito has finished second in the Belmont, a race he has won twice. Zito also sent out Ice Box, who was favored at 9-5 following his second-place finish in the Derby. But Ice Box disappointed badly. He crossed the wire ninth, but was officially placed eighth because of the disqualification of Uptowncharlybrown.

"I'm disappointed in Ice Box," Zito said. "He certainly didn't run, that's for sure."