05/16/2004 12:00AM

Smarty Jones leaves for Philadelphia

Jeff Coady
Groom Mario Arriaga displays the Preakness winner's blanket that Smarty Jones took home to Philadelphia Park Sunday morning.

BALTIMORE - left Pimlico Race Course on Sunday morning for his home track, Philadelphia Park, where he will prepare for the June 5 Belmont Stakes and a shot at becoming racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.

Smarty Jones came out of Saturday's in good shape. Better shape, in fact, than his trainer, John Servis, who was fighting a chest cold and said he was going to take a few days off in the Pocono Mountains with his wife, Sherry.

"He came out of the race terrific," Servis said Sunday morning at the Pimlico stakes barn. "I mean there was not an oat left in the feed tub this morning.

"Mario (Arriaga, Smarty Jones's groom) pulled the tub out and showed me the tub, and as I'm looking at it, he comes out from the back of the stall and dives into the tub, like he was looking for more. That's all good. I was shocked how he came out of the Derby. He's just as good, if not better, today."

Servis said Smarty Jones would probably not return to the track for training at Philadelphia Park until Wednesday or Thursday. Servis was not sure when Smarty Jones would be sent to Belmont Park.

With his victory Saturday, Smarty Jones has now won eight straight races. He is the 10th horse since the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed in 1978, to capture both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He is the first undefeated winner of the Derby and Preakness since Seattle Slew, who swept the Triple Crown in 1977.

Rock Hard Ten and Eddington, who were second and third, respectively, in the Preakness are both bound for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, according to their trainers.

Smarty Jones in the Belmont include the Nick Zito-trained trio of Birdstone, Royal Assault, and The Cliff's Edge, along with Sinister G, Swingforthefences, Tapit, the European colt Relaxed Gesture, and several possible runners exiting this Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont, including Friends Lake, Master David, and Mustanfar.

- additional reporting by David Grening