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No Triple Crown for Smarty Jones; Birdstone Wins Belmont Stakes - 2004-06-06


A thoroughbred horse named Birdstone won the Belmont Stakes in New York Saturday, dashing fan-favorite Smarty Jones's attempt to capture American racing's top honor, the Triple Crown.

They're coming down to the finish! Can Smarty Jones hold on? Here comes Birdstone! Birdstone surges past! Birdstone wins the Belmont Stakes!

The two-year-old came from behind to capture his first victory in 11 career races.

The widespread favorite was Smarty Jones, a previously undefeated horse who seemed destined to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

Jockey Stewart Elliott, who rode Smarty Jones, said his horse ran well until the last few seconds.

"[We] turned for home, he went to run and that horse just come and got us," he said.

Birdstone was a longshot, with 36-1 odds to win.

After the race, New York governor George Pataki congratulated the winning horse's owner, Mary Lou Whitney.

"Let me say something about Mary Lou Whitney," he said. "Her horse won this race and the first words out of her [mouth] were 'We feel horrible.' Because they didn't want to disappoint the crowd."

Ms. Whitney said she felt bad that Smarty Jones lost, but said he gave an important boost to the sport of horseracing.

"Everyone loves Smarty Jones, but maybe they'll start loving Birdstone," she said.

The owners of three-year-old Smarty Jones, who won the Preakness and Kentucky Derby prior to losing the Belmont Stakes, say they will race the horse again.

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