Only four of the 14 horses who competed Saturday in the Preakness are expected to run in the $500,000-added Belmont Stakes in three weeks.
As of yesterday, Pine Bluff, Alydeed and Casual Lies, the first three Preakness finishers, are Belmont-bound, as well as Agincourt, who finished seventh.
But that doesn't mean the third leg of the Triple Crown will attract a small field.
New competitors are expected to emerge from the Peter Pan Stakes, also at Belmont Park, on May 24. Additional starters could come from Europe. And the trainers of Preakness also-rans such as Lil E. Tee and Conte Di Savoya could change their minds and run in the New York race.
Pine Bluff left Pimlico immediately yesterday morning for his home base at Belmont Park.
"The Preakness was his third race in 29 days, and that's tough on any horse," trainer Tom Bohannan said. "But he came out of the race fine and ate up his supper Saturday night in 45 minutes. I think that's a feather in his cap. You don't know if your horse will get the 1 1/2 -mile Belmont distance until you run in it. After the Derby [where he finished fifth], there was a doubt in my mind whether he was a distance horse. But he showed in the Preakness that he's a two-turn horse."
Preakness runner-up Alydeed will return to Woodbine Race Course tomorrow. The Canadian colt put in a tremendous effort in the Preakness in his fifth career start and probably will go in the Belmont. Trainer Roger Attfield said he has to talk it over with the colt's owners, Donald, David and Michael Wilmot, before he makes a decision.
Alydeed's principal objective is the Canadian Triple Crown, but if he runs in the Belmont, he still has a month to recover and prepare for the Queen's Plate, July 5, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown -- the others are the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Race Course July 26 and the Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine Aug. 16.
Shelley Riley, owner-trainer of Casual Lies, said she plans to ship to Belmont Park tomorrow. "My horse went into the Preakness with cool legs, and they came out cold," Riley said. "He just couldn't handle the racetrack and only ran in spots. I think he'll like the track at Belmont Park and the 1 1/2 -mile distance."
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said: "We're probably stretching our imaginations going a mile and a half with Dance Floor. We could show up in the Colin Stakes at 9 furlongs on Belmont Day with him, or we could show up in the Silver Screen or Swaps handicaps at Hollywood Park."
Lukas will be represented in the Belmont by Al Sabin, the sixth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, who bypassed the Preakness.
Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee will return to Churchill Downs. Trainer Lynn Whiting said he wants to analyze the horse's bleeding problem, which surfaced in the Preakness.
"We're just getting into this [bleeding] situation and seeing what the magnitude of it is," Whiting said. "I'll probably breeze him and scope [examine] him when I get him home. Going up to New York [where the anti-bleeding medication Lasix is prohibited] and running him uncovered would be irresponsible on my part."
Two other horses, My Luck Runs North and Fortune's Gone, both trained by Angel Medina, bled in the Preakness. Both are returning to their home base in Florida, as are Careful Gesture and Technology.
Technology, who injured his left front heel a couple of days before the race, ran down or scraped his right front heel during the race. Technology, however, was bucking and playing at the Preakness barn yesterday morning.
Trainer Sonny Hine said he will rest the colt for several months.
"We'll be looking for races likes the Haskell, the Travers and the Molson Million for him later this summer," Hine said.
Agincourt and Conte Di Savoya are based at Belmont Park. Nick Zito, trainer of Agincourt, said the colt will run in the Belmont Stakes, but LeRoy Jolley, who trains Conte Di Savoya, was noncommittal about his horse, who placed 13th in the Preakness.
Dash For Dotty, the Baltimore-owned horse who finished eighth in the Preakness, runs next on the grass in the Woodlawn Stakes at Pimlico on May 30.
Trainer Dean Gaudet said Speakerphone, the Preakness pace-setter who ended up last, came out of the race in good shape, but probably will be returned to sprints.
A.P. Indy, who missed the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, could race this weekend in the Peter Pan Stakes. He then could go in the Belmont Stakes. Other Peter Pan possibilities with Belmont aspirations are Berkley Fitz, Colony Light, Chief Speaker and Tri To Watch.
Rokeby, the Paul Mellon-owned colt that finished third in the Wood Memorial, starts tomorrow in the Predominant Stakes at Goodwood Park in England. If Rokeby runs well, he could return to the United States and start in the Belmont Stakes.