After sending out Bellamy Road to put on perhaps the most brilliant performance in the 81-year history of the Wood Memorial, trainer Nick Zito will try for an encore with the upstaged Sun King in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
In winning the 1 1/8 -mile race by 17 1/2 lengths, Bellamy Road was clocked in 1 minute, 47.16 seconds - shattering the stakes record set by Private Terms in 1988 and equaling the Aqueduct track record set by Riva Ridge in 1973, the year after he decisively won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
This latest Secretariat impersonation sent hitherto unranked Bellamy Road soaring to the top of the Tribune Newspapers weekly Triple Crown ratings, displacing stablemate Sun King, who dropped to No. 2.
Bellamy Road is scheduled to leave New York for Kentucky tomorrow, joining Sun King and 1-2 Florida Derby finishers, High Fly and Noble Causeway, in Zito's barn at Keeneland.
"We went over him with a fine-tooth comb, and he came out great," Zito said yesterday. "Both of his races for me have been unbelievable."
After winning two of his three races for trainer Michael Dickinson last year, Bellamy Road was a 15 3/4 -length winner when he made his debut for Zito in a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park on March 12.
Sun King won just one of four races last year, but the son of 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic has been a compelling winner of both of his starts this year. Last time out, he led throughout in taking the Tampa Bay Derby by 3 1/4 lengths.
The Blue Grass promises to be the most difficult of the preps for the Kentucky Derby on May 7.
Among the horses who'll be pitted against Sun King are: High Limit, the Louisiana Derby winner trained by Bobby Frankel; Consolidator, the San Felipe winner trained by D. Wayne Lukas; Closing Argument, who forced High Fly to settle for third in the Holy Bull; and Fountain of Youth runner-up Bandini, a son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
The probable field for Saturday's Arkansas Derby suffers by comparison. The most accomplished candidates are Rebel Stakes winner Greater Good and Flower Alley, winner of the Lanes End.
Zito is considering sending Sam Davis winner Andromeda's Hero to the Arkansas Derby, giving him an opportunity to make amends for a fifth-place finish in the Lanes End.
The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.
Triple Crown ratings
Horse Jockey Trainer Starts Win Place Show Last race Next race Date
1. Bellamy Road Jose Castellano Nick Zito 5 4 0 0 Wood Memorial (1st) Kentucky Derby 5-7
2. Sun King Edgar Prado Nick Zito 6 3 0 2 Tampa Bay Derby (1st) Blue Grass Stakes 4-16
3. High Fly Jerry Bailey Nick Zito 6 5 0 1 Florida Derby (1st) Kentucky Derby 5-7
4. Noble Causeway Edgar Prado Nick Zito 6 3 3 0 Florida Derby (2nd) Kentucky Derby 5-7
5. Consolidator Rafael Bejarano D. Wayne Lukas 9 3 1 1 San Felipe Stakes (1st) Blue Grass Stakes 4-16
6. Greater Good John McKee Bob Holthus 7 5 0 1 Rebel Stakes (1st) Arkansas Derby 4-16
7. High Limit Bobby Frankel Ramon Domiguez 3 3 0 0 Louisiana Derby (1st) Blue Grass Stakes 4-16
8. Bandini John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 4 2 1 0 Fountain of Youth (1st) Blue Grass Stakes 4-16
9. Rockport Harbor Stewart Elliott John Servis 5 4 1 0 Rebel Stakes (2nd) Coolmore-Lexington 4-23
10. Buzzards Bay Mark Guidry Jeff Mullins 8 3 1 2 Santa Anita Derby (1st) Kentucky Derby 5-7
Triple Crown panel: Bill Christine, Los Angeles Times; Tom Keyser, The Sun; Dave Joseph, South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Liam Durbin, Chicago Tribune; Paul Moran, Newsday.