ELMONT, N.Y — ELMONT, N.Y. -- Prairie Bayou is the most consistent of the 3-year-olds.
Sea Hero loves the footing at Belmont Park and suits the 1 1/2 -mile distance of the Belmont Stakes.
But the "now" horse in Saturday's race is Virginia Rapids.
The 3-year-old son of Riverman out of the Sir Ivor mare, Virginiana, comes into the race off of a 1 3/4 -length victory on May 23 in the Peter Pan Stakes, the same prep race that A. P. Indy used last year on his way to a Belmont Stakes victory.
The horse is trained by Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, who is running his first Belmont starter.
Jerkens is primed for quite a weekend. He runs Pimlico Special winner Devil His Due in the $500,000 Nassau County Handicap in the race before the Belmont Stakes and then starts Sky Beauty in the Mother Goose Stakes on Sunday.
Jerkens worked Virginia Rapids lightly yesterday, three-eighths of a mile in 38 seconds.
"He doesn't get a day off after a work," Jerkens said. "He'll gallop a strong two miles [today]."
Jockey Eddie Maple has also been spending quite a bit of time with the horse. He walked and jogged him nearly an hour on Tuesday. Maple has won two Belmonts -- in 1980 with Temperence Hill and 1985 on Creme Fraiche.
Virginia Rapids won the Peter Pan carrying 114 pounds and picks up 12 pounds on Saturday. "But he's a big horse and I think he can do it," Jerkens said. "He carried 120 pounds in the Withers [Stakes]."
The horse was beaten by a head in that race by Williamstown, who won the race in track-record time.
Mack Miller, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, notes that Virginia Rapids "is out of a Rokeby [Stable] mare. He's bred to get the trip."
Miller said that he trained Virginiana, the horse's dam, "but she was terribly unsound and didn't race."
She was later sold to her current Middletown Stable owners for $190,000 and produced three-time New Jersey champion filly Virgin Michael before foaling Virginia Rapids.
Maryland fans will remember one of Virginiana's early foals, Commonwealth Club, who raced on the grass locally for trainer Paul Seefeldt until the horse was about 10 years old.
Who needs $1 million?
Miller said yesterday that winning the $1 million Chrysler Triple Crown bonus with Sea Hero "is the farthest thing from my mind."
Sea Hero needs to win the Belmont and have Preakness winner Prairie Bayou finish third or worse in order to win the money for his owner, Paul Mellon.
"The only thing I want is the horse to run well and come out of the race in good condition," Miller said.
He added that the Preakness was a tough race for the colt. "He didn't eat right and had no get up and go for about four days afterward," Miller said.
Sea Hero is back to his perky self and worked a half-mile in 48 1/5 seconds yesterday under jockey Jerry Bailey.
Those California taxes
If owner Jenny Craig ships her recent French purchase, Arinthod, to California after the Belmont, it will cost her about $50,000 in state taxes, trainer Ron McAnally said.
To avoid paying a California use tax of 8 1/4 percent on out-of-state purchases, a horse must stay out of California for 90 days or make a start in another state before shipping into his new home.
"It cost her about $75,000 to ship Tossofthecoin to Hollywood Park after the Kentucky Derby," McAnally said. Craig paid approximately $1 million for Tossofthecoin and about $600,000 for Arinthod.
McAnally said it's likely that Arinthod will stay at Belmont until July before joining his California string.
Pimlico-based trainer Leon Blusiewicz has named Laffit Pincay Jr. to ride Raglan Road in the Belmont Stakes. Pincay replaces Chris Antley, who took off to ride Cherokee Run. . . . In addition to riding Arinthod in the Belmont Stakes, Kent Desormeaux rides Missionary Ridge in the Nassau County Handicap and Koluctoo Jimmy Al in the Colin Stakes on the Belmont undercard. . . . Pimlico trainer Dick Small is shipping Pimlico Special runner-up Valley Crossing to Belmont for the Nassau County Handicap, the sixth leg of the American Championship Racing Series. The horse will be accompanied by Punch Line, the Althea Johnson-owned and -trained winner of Pimlico's Harriman Stakes. Punch Line goes in the Riva Ridge Stakes on Belmont Day.