06/05/2004 11:00PM

Smarty Jones heads back home

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EQUI-PHOTO
Groom Mario Arriagas leads Smarty Jones off the van after arriving back at Philadelphia Park on Sunday morning.

ELMONT, N.Y. - , whose bid for a Triple Crown ended in the final yards of Saturday's Belmont Stakes, left Belmont Park at 9:45 on Sunday morning bound for Philadelphia Park, where he will get several weeks off before resuming his celebrated campaign.

As a light, steady rain fell at Belmont Park, trainer John Servis supervised Smarty Jones being loaded onto a horse van for the two-hour trip back to Philadelphia Park.

Servis said Smarty Jones "came out of the race very good." He said Smarty Jones would get three or four weeks off, during which he would merely walk at his Philadelphia Park barn. "We'll let him rest up, then map out a schedule to get him to the Breeders' Cup," Servis said Sunday morning.

The length of the vacation would likely mean Smarty Jones would make his next start in the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Labor Day. Servis said he envisioned Smarty Jones racing once against older horses prior to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park.

Birdstone, who scored the upset victory when beating Smarty Jones by one length, will be pointed for the Travers Stakes this summer at Saratoga, according to trainer Nick Zito. Birdstone's most likely prep for the Travers would be Saratoga's Jim Dandy Stakes.

Zito called the Belmont his biggest victory, but said he did not feel the same emotional high he did after his two Kentucky Derby victories. "I didn't rejoice like I usually do," he said Sunday morning. "When you're involved in a sporting event like yesterday, it humbles you."