05/19/2005 12:00AM

Sir Barton: 'Reel' Belmont-bound?


The Sir Barton Stakes served as a launching pad to victory in the Belmont Stakes for Sarava in 2002, and if Reel Legend can win the $100,000 Sir Barton on Saturday, a berth in the final Triple Crown race awaits, according to his trainer, Jimmy Jerkens.

"It looks like he can go a route," Jerkens said from Belmont Park. "If he rates kindly and does it the right way, we'll give it serious thought."

comes into the Sir Barton riding a two-race win streak at Aqueduct. In his most recent start, against a first-level allowance field, he roared past the leaders and drew away powerfully for a 9 1/4-length victory.

The Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race, became a logical spot for several reasons, Jerkens said. Reel Legend was ready to move into a minor stakes, and he is owned by the same people who own Artie Schiller, who is also running here Saturday in the Dixie Handicap. "We were going anyway," Jerkens said.

Reel Legend has raced just four times and has yet to finish out of the money, but he was far from a flashy horse early on.

"He was kind of a plodder type," Jerkens said, "but he got bigger and stronger down in Florida. He trained like a distance horse from the start, and he was one of the few I didn't have any qualms about starting out long, especially on the turf in Florida, because it was so firm."

Eight others are entered in the Sir Barton, though the main contenders, like Reel Legend, appear to be horses moving up steadily through their allowance conditions. This is not the strongest field ever assembled for this race.

has scored runaway victories at Laurel and Pimlico in his last two starts for trainer Rodney Jenkins.

followed up a longshot win at Gulfstream with another upset at Keeneland for trainer Nick Zito.

Both Sunshine Stalker and Pinpoint like to run near the lead, and there appears to be little sharp early speed in this race.