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TRIPLE CROWN RATINGS

Career Horse S 1 2 3 Earnings 1. Spend a Buck 13 9 2 2 $3,998,509 2. Stephan’s Odyssey 11 4 3 1 $957,828 3. Chief’s Crown 15 9 3 2 $1,410,970 4. Creme Fraiche 13 5 5 0 $691,004 5. Fast Account 15 2 6 1 $201,604 6. Banner Bob 14 7 3 2 $481,296 7. Smile 7 6 1 0 $450,850 8. El Basco 14 3 2 2 $303,220 9. Clever Allemont 8 6 0 1 $172,948 10. Don’t Say Hello 11 4 2 0 $145,340

REMARKS: One would wonder how trainer Woody Stephens might have felt after winning a record fourth straight Belmont Stakes with Creme Fraiche Saturday. On one hand, Stephens had to be saying to himself, “Well, yeah, I wanted to win the Belmont again, but why did it have to be that horse?”

Creme Fraiche, you see, is a gelding, the first gelding to win the Belmont, and has no breeding value. He beat Stephens’ other horse, the colt Stephan’s Odyssey, by a half length, and had the order been reversed, it would have done wonders for Stephan’s Odyssey’s stud value.

Stephens usually receives a lifetime breeding right to the good colts he trains for Henryk de Kwiatkowski, the owner of Stephan’s Odyssey.

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Stephan’s Odyssey, however, will have additional chances to increase his breeding credentials. Stephens isn’t likely to run the stablemates against one another again, and Stephan’s Odyssey’s next start is likely to be the prestigious Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 17, when Spend a Buck, the Kentucky Derby winner who did not run in the Preakness and the Belmont, may also compete.

As for Creme Fraiche, Stephens will try adding to his bankroll by sending him in the other direction--first the American Derby at Arlington Park July 6, then the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs Sept. 21.

“The decision to geld Creme Fraiche was made early during his training as a 2-year-old in Virginia,” said owner Elizabeth Moran, who raced steeplechasers before getting involved with flat runners. “We had to geld him. Nobody could manage him. He was very unruly.”

Speaking from Santa Anita, Frank (Jimmy) Kilroe said that the Belmont “was inconclusive as far as the 3-year-old picture is concerned. The (muddy) condition of the track had a lot to do with the race. It’s tough for a horse to run at Belmont Park when the track gets wet, and that appeared to be the problem for several horses Saturday.”

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Stephan’s Odyssey bounced off the rail at the top of the stretch, but jockey Laffit Pincay didn’t use that as an excuse. Fast Account, who finished fourth, as he had done in the Kentucky Derby, veered out, giving Pincay reason to believe he had room to get through, but then Fast Account moved in again, causing Stephan’s Odyssey to hit the fence.

This is the way The Times’ three-man panel fared in the Triple Crown races this year:

KENTUCKY DERBY--The panel rated Chief’s Crown, Proud Truth and Stephan’s Odyssey 1-2-3. Stephan’s Odyssey and Chief’s Crown ran 2-3 with Spend a Buck, the panel’s No. 4 horse, winning the race.

PREAKNESS--The experts moved Spend a Buck to the top of the list, but since he skipped the Pimlico race their top horse was Chief’s Crown, whom they felt deserved another chance. Chief’s Crown was second this time with Tank’s Prospect, rated sixth after his seventh-place finish in the Derby, roaring through the stretch to win.

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BELMONT--Absentee Spend a Buck was still No. 1. The panel had Creme Fraiche eighth before the race, with five Belmont starters--Tank’s Prospect, Chief’s Crown, Stephan’s Odyssey, Fast Account and El Basco ahead of him.

Not a very impressive report card, but in fairness to the panel, it appears to be a year of solid, evenly matched 3-year-olds who will take turns beating each other. Chief’s Crown, favored by the public in all three races, was third in the Derby when Spend a Buck ran the third-fastest time in race history. He was second by a head in the Preakness when Tank’s Prospect broke the stakes record. And he was third in the Belmont as Creme Fraiche’s time was the fourth-fastest in 117 years--behind only Secretariat, Gallant Man and Affirmed.

The panel can sit back and enjoy the rest of the season. That’s the only safe way to approach the 3-year-old division this year.

Advisory panel for The Times’ Triple Crown Ratings: Lenny Hale, racing secretary at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga; Frank (Jimmy) Kilroe, vice president for racing at Santa Anita; and Tommy Trotter, director of racing at Arlington Park and racing secretary at Gulfstream Park.

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