Woody Stephens has trained the winners of the last five Belmont Stakes, starting with Conquistador Cielo, a 14 1/2-length winner in 1982.
Stephens, 73, will saddle two horses in the Belmont June 6. One is Conquistarose, a son of Conquistador Cielo. The other is Gone West. Neither raced in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, both won Alysheba.
Asked by the New York Times what he thought of Alysheba, Stephens said: "What's he been beating? He's a nice horse, but the Preakness didn't scare me."
Of Jack Van Berg, Alysheba's trainer, he said: "He's got to come to me now. It won't be like the Omaha fair."
He added: "Alysheba's coming from blue-jean country to my country. It's like I always say when they come in to run against me in New York--those buildings get awful tall once you cross the Hudson."
Add Alysheba: He's been called the best of a mediocre lot, but Andrew Beyer of the Washington Post writes, "When Richard Nixon nominated G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court and most critics lambasted his mediocre qualifications, Sen. Roman Hruska defended the nominee by saying that mediocre people deserve some recognition, too."
Trivia Time: When Spectacular Bid was beaten in the Belmont after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1979, what was the excuse offered by trainer Bud Delp? (Answer below.)
How crippled are the Boston Celtics? Said Kevin McHale after Sunday's game: "Before the game, there's no room in the training room with everyone getting fixed, so I've been going to the Boston Bruins' room.
"It's a lot quieter. Besides, I don't like to see everyone getting worked on."
77 Years Ago Today: On May 19, 1910, Cy Young of the Cleveland Indians beat the Washington Senators, 5-4, in 11 innings for his 500th career victory. Young, 43, retired the next year with 511 wins.
From Phil Jackman of the Baltimore Sun, wondering how long Bill Russell will last with the Sacramento Kings: "Clearly, the guy has trouble maintaining interest in anything for an extended period, as evidenced by his shoddy work as an analyst on network and cable.
"Russell floored everyone during a playoff game on WTBS when he opined, 'Joe Barry Carroll always played hard.' Right, Bill, that's why he carries the nickname 'Joe Barely Cares.' "
Add Carroll: The Denver Post said the word is that none of his teammates talked to him after the Golden State Warriors lost Game 5 to the Lakers, "grumbling that he had quit on the team."
Speculating that the Warriors will try to trade Carroll, the paper said: "As evidence, consider this scene: After Game 3, a Warrior loss at Oakland, Coach George Karl, after everyone was gone from the locker room, walked to Carroll's locker, tore the door off the locker stall and walked out. The door was replaced before the team's next practice session."
Would-you-believe-it dept.: From Richard Justice of the Washington Post: "Wayne Garland, who hasn't pitched since 1978, recently received his last paycheck from the Cleveland Indians."
From County Circuit Judge Alexander Scott in Janesville, Wis., acknowledging that most of the prospective jurors in the James Lofton sexual-assault trial probably have heard of the case: "The only place we could pick a jury that hasn't heard about this case is Iran."
Trivia Answer: He said the horse stepped on a pin in his stall before the race. Quotebook
Chi Chi Rodriguez, looking to 3 1/2 more productive years on the Senior golf circuit: "Then Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus come in. I'll caddy for Jack."