Bay Colt by Grindstone-Dear Birdie by Storm Bird
Owner: Marylou Whitney Stables
Trainer: Nick Zito
Stallion Farm: Gainesway
Stud Fee:$10,000 Live Foal
Year Age Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Earnings
2003 2yo 3 2 0 0 $339,000
2004 3yo 3 2 0 0 $ 621,600
Lifetime 6 3 0 0 $960,600
WON Champagne S G1
WON Belmont S G1
Last Start: 1st Belmont Stakes
Horsehat.com Fast Fact: Birdstone’s
older sister, Bird Town won the Kentucky Oaks
and earned an Eclipse Award as Champion Three Year-Old
BIRDSTONE WINS BELMONT
Belmont, that ol' heartbreaker, did it again.
It swallowed up Smarty Jones just when it looked as if
he had it beat, stopping yet another 3-year-old who had
his sights set on winning the Triple Crown.
When Birdstone ran him down near the finish of Saturday's
Belmont Stakes, a record crowd that was teased into believing
it would at long last see racing history, left stunned,
disappointed and in tears.
So popular was Smarty Jones that even the winning jockey,
trainer and owner apologized.
"I'm very sorry, of course," said Edgar Prado,
who was booed in the winner's circle after guiding Birdstone
to a one-length victory, "but I had to do my job,
that's what I'm paid for."
Nick Zito won his first Belmont after finishing second
five times, yet he understood why fans were upset.
"It's sad because Smarty is great for racing," the
popular New York-based trainer said. "We've all become
fans of Smarty Jones. He will still go down as one of the
Nick Zito, Birdstone's trainer, poses with the trophy after
winning the Belmont Stakes. (AP)
The little red chestnut was poised to become the 12th Triple
Crown champion when he turned for home. Instead, he ended
up as the 18th horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness
but fall short in the "Test of the Champion."
"We're starving for a Triple Crown winner and I think
everybody thought that this was the one, including myself," Smarty
Jones' trainer John Servis said. "But that's ....
what makes this game so great."
The 1 1/2-mile Belmont has now thwarted three consecutive
Triple tries, six in the past eight years and 10 since
Affirmed became the last Triple Crown winner in 1978. It's
now been a record 27 years since America celebrated its
last Triple Crown champion, and many racing fans are wondering
when they'll see one again.
Smarty Jones brought an 8-for-8 record into the longest
and most grueling race of the series, and the Pennsylvania-bred
was sent off as the 3 1/2-10 favorite. His loss was the
biggest surprise with a Triple on the line since 1979,
when Spectacular Bid appeared to be a lock but finished
third at odds of 3-10 after getting caught up in an early
"I think it's really disappointing he didn't win," Bid's
trainer Bud Delp said, referring to Smarty Jones. "But
that's the history of the Belmont."
Like Spectacular Bid, Smarty Jones may have moved too
soon, too. Servis and jockey Stewart Elliott said Smarty
had trouble relaxing. So Elliott guided him into the lead
entering the backstretch with a mile remaining. Around
the far turn, Smarty Jones led by nearly four lengths before
Birdstone came flying past him in the stretch and left
Smarty with his first loss in nine races.
"I had a little trouble getting him settled," said
Elliott, who dropped to 1-for-17 at Belmont Park. "I
figured I could get into the backside and get a clear lead
and then he'd relax. He just never got a break. In the
end, the mile-and-a-half just got to him."
Losing hurt, Servis said, "but we had a really good
"We're not going to put our head down. We're proud," he
Birdstone, who ran eighth behind Smarty Jones in the Derby,
gave Prado his second huge upset in the Belmont. Two years
ago, he spoiled War Emblem's Triple try by winning aboard
70-1 Sarava, for the biggest payoff in Belmont history
Birdstone won at odds of 36-1, and returned $74, $14 and
$8.60. Smarty Jones paid $3.30 and $2.60. Royal Assault,
also trained by Zito, was third and paid $6.10.
He was followed by Eddington, Rock Hard Ten, Tap Dancer,
Master David, Caiman and Purge.
Winning time for the race was 2:27.50, well off 1973 Triple
Crown winner Secretariat's record of 2:24. Though gray
skies threatened all day, there were only a few showers
and the track was listed as fast at post time.
The Belmont tripped up Funny Cide last year, when the
gelding couldn't handle a wet track and was beaten by Empire
Maker; two years ago, War Emblem stumbled at the start
and finished eighth.
For Smarty Jones, instead of joining Seattle Slew as the
only unbeaten Triple Crown winners, he will keep company
with Majestic Prince, who also was undefeated until his
loss in the 1969 Belmont.
Earlier in the week, Zito all but conceded the race and
Triple Crown to Smarty Jones, saying he'd be happy with
second place. He was much happier with the victory, while
owner and socialite Marylou Whitney also apologized for
denying Smarty Jones a place in history.
"I'm sorry, sorry, sorry Smarty Jones couldn't win," she
said. "We do love Smarty, and I think Smarty Jones
has done more for the racing community and people who love
horses. It gives everyone the chance to think, 'This could
happen to me.'"
Her husband, John Hendrickson, added: "We do feel
With his fourth victory in seven starts, Birdstone earned
$600,000 to boost his bankroll to $975,600. Smarty Jones'
owners, Roy and Pat Chapman, failed to collect a $5 million
Triple Crown bonus, but still came away with $200,000.
Smarty Jones remains fourth among leading money-earners
in North America with $7,613,155.
"Being second in the Belmont ain't all bad," Pat
Chapman said. "The better horse won today. I am glad
About 90 minutes before the race, it was announced to
the crowd that President Reagan had died. His picture was
flashed on the jumbo screen next to the tote board, the
infield flag was lowered to half-staff and there was a
moment of silence.