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Zito, Romans wouldn't spread out Triple Crown

Da'Tara's trainer Nick Zito raises the trophy after

Da'Tara's trainer Nick Zito raises the trophy after his horse won the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. (June 7, 2008.) Credit: Newsday/Paul J. Bereswill

No horse has swept the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, which has prompted suggestions to change the series. D. Wayne Lukas' idea is to push back the Preakness to Memorial Day and the Belmont Stakes to July 4. Fellow trainers Dale Romans and Nick Zito disagree.

"The Triple Crown should never change,'' Romans said Thursday. "There's so much history behind it. A great horse will come along eventually and win it. I don't think they should change a thing about it.'''

Zito, winner of five Triple Crown events, says keep the dates the same but reduce the Derby field. "They keep talking about changing the Triple Crown,''' Zito said. "Why don't they talk about changing the number of horses in the Derby? That's what makes it so tough. Competing against 19 horses is very hard on a horse physically as well as mentally.'''

Kiaran McLaughlin, who won the 2006 Belmont with Jazil, agrees with his mentor, Lukas, about spreading out the classics.

"There would be two holidays in there, which would help,''' McLaughlin said, "and you'd have more horses competing in all three races.'''

Around the track

Friday night the Empire State Building will be lit in green and white, the colors of the New York Racing Association . . . Parking gates at Belmont Park will open at 8:15 a.m. Saturday, with the first of 13 races at 11:35, almost seven hours before the Belmont's scheduled post time of 6:32 p.m . . . According to the Weather Channel, there's a 60-percent chance of scattered thunderstorms, with a high of 83.

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