05/04/2006 12:00AM

Sexton to train Bellamy Road

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Ed Sexton, a former trainer who now serves as the racing manager for George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, said Thursday he will take over the training of Bellamy Road, the beaten favorite from last year's Kentucky Derby.

Sexton, who arrived in Louisville Thursday morning from Florida, said he has the backing of Steinbrenner, who owns Bellamy Road.

"He's going to remain with me. I'm going to train him myself," Sexton said. "Maybe I'm as good as anybody myself. Nothing against Nick Zito, who did nothing wrong and who is a great trainer, and nothing against any trainer, but I know the horse better than anybody. I'm going to keep him under my own wing now.

"I've trained plenty of winners," Sexton said. "A good horse trains himself, anyway, I believe. It's just a matter of keeping them sound."

Sexton said Bellamy Road has been in extensive training on the farm and may be able to return to the races by the end of June or early July. Sexton said the ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic to be run on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Bellamy Road raced as a 2-year-old for Michael Dickinson. The horse was moved to Zito for his 3-year-old season. When he won the Wood Memorial by 17 1/4 lengths, Bellamy Road became the favorite for the Derby. He finished seventh as the favorite, but a popped splint bone in his front leg was diagnosed after the race. Bellamy Road returned in the Travers, where he finished a game second to Flower Alley, but later was found to have aggravated the injury.

Zito declined comment Thursday, saying he wanted to see the story in print first before saying anything.