Updated on 09/15/2011 12:21PM

Point Given draws the outside post - again


ELMONT, N.Y. - Point Given swept the Triple Crown of post draws Wednesday, drawing the far outside post for the third time in three Triple Crown events this year.

Post positions are not generally considered of much importance in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, but Point Given's draw of post nine in the nine-horse field was enough to make trainer Bob Baffert chime in with a comment.

"There's a fix in," joked Baffert of Point Given's penchant for outside posts in random post draws.

However, he reiterated that the post position should have no bearing on his colt's chances. "We'll just let him break and settle in. If he shows up that day, distance, pace, post, nothing is going to matter."

Preakness winner Point Given's lone lackluster effort of the year came in his fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, a race Baffert has already has put behind him.

"The most difficult race of the three is the Derby. There's a huge field and you need a lot of luck. He was pushed along in the Derby to keep up, and he really doesn't want to be ridden that way."

Point Given, along with the rest of the Belmont field, will be trying the 1 1/2-mile distance for the first, and perhaps the only time in their careers. However, Baffert is not worrying about the distance, or his horse's lack of training over the huge Belmont oval.

"Distance is not going to be a problem as long as you ride him patiently," said Baffert. "And I've had luck running right off the plane here. If your horse is running well, he'll run well anywhere."

Point Given raced at Belmont Park last fall when he finished second to A P Valentine in the Champagne Stakes. He'll get back out over the track to gallop up to the race starting tomorrow morning.

Baffert plans a trip to Broadway to help pass the time until race day. He plans to see Mel Brooks's smash hit, "The Producers" on Wednesday night. The comedy won 12 Tony Awards at Monday's ceremony and is currently the toughest ticket in town.

Ward not as confident as he used to be

Trainer John Ward had no comment about Monarchos's draw of post position five, but when asked about Monarchos's chances in the Belmont Stakes, he commented that he was "not quite" as confident about his colt's chances as he was before the Kentucky


"It's not that I have any less respect for my horse, but rather, I have more respect for Joe Orseno's horse and others who are fresh," said Ward. "Point Given is in the same position I am. This is a really nice group of horses."

Ward pointed out that he never considered passing the Belmont or backing off his horse, but did concede the Triple Crown trail can take a lot out of a horse.

"We've gone Florida Derby - Wood - Kentucky Derby - Preakness - Belmont," said Ward. "The nine races are starting to show."

On the positive side, Ward believes Monarchos will benefit from his experience, and have an advantage at Belmont Park.

"He's a seasoned racehorse that has his own style now," Said Ward. "Here at Belmont with the bigger, sweeping turns, horses have to train on this mile and a half sandy track. Horses that don't train here are at a disadvantage."

Jockey Jorge Chavez will be back aboard Monarchos in the Belmont. First, however, he will be making a stop at Yankee Stadium where he will toss out the first pitch before Thursday night's game.

Belmont horses arrive safely

The plane carrying Belmont contenders Point Given, Dollar Bill, and Buckle Down Ben safely touched down at New York's JFK airport from Kentucky at approximately 9:45 a.m. Wednesday. The trio then vanned over to the Belmont Park backstretch where they

arrived uneventfully at 10:25 a.m.

Dr Greenfield due in tonight

Belmont contender Dr Greenfield is scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday after clearing a 36-hour quarantine and making the 90 minute van ride from Newburgh, N.Y.

Trainer Gerard Butler is not scheduled to arrive in New York until about 3 p.m., but Dr Greenfield's owner, Barry Irwin of Team Valor, was in attendance at Wednesday's post draw.

"He's a big horse who looks like he can run all day, and he has the perfect style for the Belmont," said Irwin of Dr Greenfield. "The pace of this race sets up perfect for him. He'll be sitting third or fourth about 7-10 lengths off the lead."

Team Valor has had success in the past with bringing an English-trained horse over for the Belmont Stakes.

Their My Memoirs finished second to A.P. Indy at 18-1 in 1992.

"We're following the same pattern with this horse as My Memoirs," said Irwin. "Over there they can work horses as fast and as hard as they want. The surfaces are more forgiving."

Dr Greenfield broke his maiden on the dirt in England as a 2-year-old, and has since gone 2-for-2 as a 3-year-old in races on the turf. Grandera, the horse who finished second to Dr Greenfield in his last win, came back to finish third in the French Derby, flattering Dr Greenfield's form.

"Out of the horses who've run in all three [Triple Crown races], I fear Point Given," said Irwin. "I think he's a cut above them all."

Zito still hungry for first Belmont win

Nick Zito, New York-based trainer of A P Valentine, has finished second in the Belmont four times, but never won. His closest call came in 1991 when his Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold came a head shy of Hansel.

"We've won just about every big race in New York except the Belmont and Travers," said Zito. "It's gratifying and humbling to have this chance again. I'd like to get one, particularly with this horse. He has uncanny ability. He's a wonderful horse. I'm positive he'll run a great race in the Belmont."

A P Valentine drew post eight for the Belmont, spurring Zito to comment, "I didn't know when number I wanted, so I'll take eight. That's Yogi's number, and like he said, 'It's not over till it's over.'"

Big 12-race card set for Saturday

The Belmont Stakes will be the 10th race on a 12-race Belmont Day card that will feature four other graded stakes including the True North, the Just A Game, the Riva Ridge, and the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, which will offer a battle of the sexes with last year's champion turf filly Perfect Sting facing highweight King Cugat and eight other males. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with a first post of 12:30.

Post for the Belmont will be 6:05. In addition to the usual wagering menu, the card will also feature a guaranteed $1,000,000 pick six, and a guaranteed $250,000 pick four.