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Tapit, The Cliff's Edge not quite ready for Belmont

NEW YORK -- When Smarty Jones goes for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes Saturday, Tapit and The Cliff's Edge won't be around to try to stop him.

The Cliff's Edge finished fifth behind Smarty Jones in the Kentucky Derby, but missed the Preakness with a bruised right front foot. The colt has recovered, but after a workout yesterday at Saratoga, trainer Nick Zito pulled his Blue Grass Stakes winner from consideration.

"He got very, very tired after the work," Zito said, and after talking to owner Robert LaPenta, "we decided not to run. He missed a whole week of training in Baltimore, so he would have been only 90 percent ready to run in the Belmont."

Tapit, ninth in the Derby, will miss the race because he has not "fully recovered from the remnants of lung disease," according to a posting on trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm Web site.

David Fiske, racing manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds, Tapit's owners, said allergies may have caused the gray colt to develop a lung infection following a sixth-place finish in the Florida Derby. Tapit was healthy enough to win the Wood Memorial before running in the Kentucky Derby.

"He's just not 100 percent and he would have to be 110 percent to beat Smarty Jones, so we're not going to run," Fiske told the Thoroughbred Times.

Zito still plans to run Birdstone and Royal Assault in the Belmont. Other contenders include Rock Hard Ten and Eddington, second and third, respectively, in the Preakness; Master David, Purge, Tap Dancer, and Caiman.

With the latest defections, the trainers of Purge and Master David are now reconsidering their original plans to pass on the race.

Purge, beaten twice by Smarty Jones in Arkansas, was an impressive winner of the Peter Pan Stakes last week at Belmont. Master David, 12th in the Derby, was third in the Peter Pan.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he will make a decision on Purge after the colt works out tomorrow.

"There is a chance," Pletcher said. "There's probably a little better chance now then there was a week ago."

"I might enter, but that's about it," Master David's trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Meanwhile, Smarty Jones took a 25-minute walk around Philadelphia Park yesterday, a day after he worked 7 furlongs in 1:29.20.

"He came out of the work perfect," barn foreman Bill Foster said. During the walk, "he was really on the muscle -- squealing and bucking. I even had to put a shank in his mouth to keep him under control."

Smarty Jones, who will attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown champion and first since Affirmed in 1978, could arrive at Belmont either Tuesday night or Wednesday.

The post position draw is Wednesday.

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