One day after taking a hit with the defection of Kentucky Derby-winning Street Sense from the Belmont Stakes, the race took another on the chin with the apparent addition of a horse called Digger. Never heard of Digger? Not to worry.

I dont know Larry Roman, Diggers owner and apparently an honorable man. When a horse he owned, an animal by the name of Lawrence The Roman, was sold for big money then performed poorly in a subsequent stakes race at Aqueduct this winter, Roman voided the sale and returned the money. Four decades in this game and that was a first for me.

Now the same Larry Roman recently purchased Digger, a fast horse for $60,000, and because Street Sense is not running in the Belmont, Digger is. Roman believes hes doing the Belmont Stakes a favor by running his new horse.

You couldnt make this up.

In an attempt to boost the Belmont box office or garner publicity for himself, Roman offered the mount on Digger to retired Hall of Fame jockey, Angel Cordero Jr. To paraphrase Cordero, who gracefully declined the ride, at a mile and a half theyd need oxygen to revive me.

Im unclear as to who would need the oxygen more, Cordero, or a lifetime 2-for-8 son of Yonaguska, the sire of many fast sprinters. Sprinters!

Roman also told racing writer David Grening that owner Jim Tafel and trainer Carl Nafzger should be ashamed of themselvesthey dont care about the game.

Lets see if I understand this: Tafel and Nafzger are bad guys for doing what they think is best for their horse and are planning a second-season campaign that could earn Street Sense Horse of the Year honors but Roman is a good guy because hes entering a self-admitted no-hoper with a sprinters pedigree and somehow this is OK for Digger and helps the Belmont and the sport.

No one likes short-field racing, not even in a classic. And getting the trifecta finishers in the first two legs of racings greatest series to return for the Test of the Champion would have been epic, even without the possibility of crowning a Triple Crown winner.

The only intrigue left, with or without the addition of a wonderful filly, Rags to Riches, was whether Hard Spun--suited to the marathon by pedigree and who figures to control the tempo under new rider Garrett Gomez--could gallop Curlin to death and upset the Preakness champion.

But no one will ever know because Lawrence The Romans stated intention is to be on the lead with Digger, and that Hard Spun would need to be going :44 if hes going to go by us in the first four furlongs.

And somehow this is all good for the Belmont and the game and for Digger, to be thrown to the wolves. Let me riddle you something, Mr. Roman. If the hopelessly outclassed horse ever suffered an injury while the whole world was watching, now that would be something from which your game, already reeling, might never recover. Have you given that any thought, sir?

But why take this all seriously, right? Thats why racing doesnt need a commissioner; isn't that right? Because money is almighty and this stopped being a sport the day the music died a long, long time ago.

If the New York stewards had guts, they would stop the madness before Belmont entries are taken Wednesday morning. And then Roman could sue NYRA because this is America and because he can. Then again, he'd have to wait on a long line for a long, long time to collect. Hey, think of it this way. That would be better than someone dropping a dime to the ASPCA, right?