Local author has reason to hope Smarty wins Belmont

       Here's a hot tip for you: Robert Shoop likes Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes June 5.
        Not that the Westside writer is suggesting you run out and put your life savings on the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
       But if there's anyone who might have a clue as to whether the colorful colt can win horse racing's Triple Crown, it's Shoop. After all, he's the author of “Down to the Wire - The Lives of the Triple Crown Champions” (published by Russell Dean and Company). Released in January, the book tells the stories of horse-racing's 11 Triple Crown winners.
        “He ought to win,” Shoop said, when asked the obvious question by the Westside Pioneer. “I hope he does and he has an excellent chance. His trainer (Jack Servis) has done an excellent job and kept him in great condition. And his jockey (Stewart Elliott) has ridden him perfectly, with no errors.”
       If Smarty does prevail, he will be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed succeeded. If he fails, Shoop said, he will be the 20th horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to lose in the longer Belmont race.
        Shoop has been following the Smarty Jones saga closely. Not only are there “very interesting stories” surrounding him - “a real rags to riches story,” he said - but Shoop's publisher has told him that a Smarty Jones victory will green-light a second edition of “Down to the Wire,” to come out in August with a chapter about the new champion.
        Does that mean Shoop will be rooting for the horse? Yes, but not desperately. Sales of the first edition have been so strong - 80 percent of the 5,200 copies have been sold - that a second edition is already in the works, Shoop said. It would just come out a few months later if Smarty has a bad day at the Belmont.

Westside Pioneer article