The seven horse field consists of two tiers, the first led by Preakness champion Curlin, the fast and consistent Hard Spun, and the filly, Rags to Riches, who could be any kind as racetrackers say. A couple of lengths separate them on performance figures after adjusting for the fillys sex allowance of five pounds. A couple of lengths is not much going a mile and a half.

The second tier consists of Tiago, seventh in the Derby but for his connections the Belmont couldnt come soon enough. Mike Smith said he learned a lot. Probably did. William Kaplan said hes been pointing Imawildandcrazyguy to this race since January. January. C P West finally had his break-through race in the Preakness. Conventionally, it was a perfect prep for the Belmont. Slews Tizzy is the only one who appears in danger of being outclassed, but has won two recent graded stakes.

Without Street Sense, a huge loss, this Belmont turned out to be as good as it could get. The second tier horses have a punchers chance, remote, but a chance nonetheless. And picking the winner from among the big three is not easy.

The good news for morning line favorite Curlin (6-5) is that hes apparently held his form very well. "Hes more chiseled now and still has that beautiful stride. It gives us a lot of confidence going into Saturday," said assistant trainer Scott Blasi at Wednesday mornings post position draw at Belmont Park.

"Ive said it for months; we may be hailing Curlin as a super-horse," said Hard Spuns trainer, Larry Jones, who was pleased by his colts final relaxed breeze over the weekend. "Were trying to confuse him," joked Jones. "If the fifty-seven-and-three [Derby workout] didnt confuse him, maybe the one-oh-three will."

Jones believes, too, that the filly has earned her shot. "I wouldnt be surprised if theyre putting [carnations] on her when its over." Rags to Riches drew the outside slip, post seven, right next to Hard Spun. It will be interesting to watch the first turn tactics unfold between Garrett Gomez on Hard Spin and Johnny Velazquez on Rags to Riches.

Should the filly win, it will be, of course, trainer Todd Pletchers first victory in a classic. How would it feel to accomplish that? "Until I win one I cant answer," Pletcher said. "But [Rags to Riches] is a good-sized filly and most good fillies Ive seen have been pretty big fillies."

And running against colts? "I might have run a two-year-old against colts, but there are so many opportunities for [older] fillies that theres no reason to try it." So why this one? "Because shes a half [sister] to Jazil, last years Belmont winner, and she has Belmont winners on both sides of her pedigree."

In fact, she has six Belmont winners in her first three generations, according to Steve Haskin of "Bloodhorse."

Its the kind of pedigree that helps make Belmont 139 so interesting. And not that easy.