By Dick Downey
Heading into the third leg of the Triple Crown, Tale of Verve trainer Dallas Stewart finds himself in a familiar spot.
The 55-year-old Stewart has been an upset winner in both the Breeders' Cup and the Kentucky Oaks but has yet to win a Triple Crown race -- yet he's run second three times in the last three years. Golden Soul in 2013 and Commanding Curve in 2014 ran second in the Kentucky Derby, and of course Tale of Verve was second in this year's Preakness.
"We've been good, but we've got to get it done," Stewart said. We've got to march over there and get it done. I think he's a horse that's really bred for the distance. He can take it. He's got the stamina, he's got the pedigree. I think he's got the ability, so it's going to be a real good race for him. I'm feeling real good about it."
Tale of Verve has one win in seven starts, a 1 3/16-mile maiden special weight April 23 facing older horses. He has been training at Belmont since the race and breezed five furlongs in 59.02 (1/23) on May 30.
Tuesday morning, Tale of Verve galloped once around the main track. Gary Stevens, who has won the Belmont Stakes three times (1995, 1998, 2001) in his career, will ride on Saturday.
"He went easy in the mud, looked good and had good energy. He's eating well and training well," Stewart said. "There's nothing left to do now. We'll just polish it off until the race and see what happens."
Golden Soul and Commanding Curve both finished ninth in the Belmont, so Stewart has to step it up on Saturday against American Pharoah.
"I can respect that they're trying to accomplish and if I don't win it, I hope he does. But I'm out to win it."