ELMONT, N.Y. — ELMONT, N.Y. -- Ron McAnally stood in the shed row of Barn 14 at Belmont Park yesterday and rattled off this list of 3-year-olds:
Dalhart. Personal Hope. Prairie Bayou. Sea Hero. Even Maryland-based Wolf Prince, who ran eighth yesterday in the English Derby.
Name the horse, McAnally said, and it's a good chance he has tried to buy it for diet guru Jenny Craig.
It's entry time for the Belmont Stakes today, so whom does Craig end up with as her first starter in the race?
An anorexic-looking colt named Arinthod, a son of an obscure French stallion, Baillamont (by Blushing Groom), who resides in Japan.
Even McAnally said the horse looks "like a greyhound."
But the skinny colt, who in non-Craig-like fashion McAnally is trying to get to gain weight, earned some credibility yesterday with a faster-than-expected Belmont workout.
Under jockey Jean Cruguet, Arinthod was timed five furlongs in 58 2/5 seconds, a speed move that McAnally didn't think Arinthod had in him.
"Elated and surprised" is how McAnally termed his reaction to Arinthod's work.
"It pumped me up quite a bit," McAnally said. "I just got off the phone with Sid [Craig, Jenny's husband], and he felt the same way."
The Craigs started their Triple Crown buying frenzy last year with the $2.5 million purchase of the English colt Dr Devious just a few weeks before the Kentucky Derby. The horse finished eighth, but later won the English Derby and was sold at year's end to Japanese interests for $6 million.
Their search for a ready-made 1993 Triple Crown prospect started last November, when McAnally showed interest in Dalhart.
"But he wasn't for sale," McAnally said. "Then we looked at Personal Hope. He had a couple of bad ankles and stood in ice. I called [trainer] Mack Miller and tried to buy Sea Hero. He's the one I really wanted. But he wasn't for sale. The horse we came closest to buying was Prairie Bayou. That was after he won a small stakes last winter in New York. The price was $400,000. But then someone advised the Craigs that buying a gelding wasn't a good idea. So we put him on the back burner. When we called [owner John Ed Anthony] four days before the Jim Beam, he said he had taken him off the market.
"I even flew into New York and took a limousine to the Fair Hill pTC Training Center [near Elkton] and saw Wolf Prince about 11 one night. He had two hot ankles and a hot knee, so we didn't even bother to vet him [have him inspected by a veterinarian]."
That's when McAnally flew to France in March and bought Arinthod out of the stable of trainer Francois Boutin, of Arazi fame.
"We had intended to run him in the Derby. But then he had cracked heels and missed the race," McAnally said. "We didn't feel the Preakness was his cup of tea. So we waited until the Belmont."
In the meantime, the Craigs purchased Tossofthecoin a couple of days before the Derby and watched him finish last of the 19 starters. Back at McAnally's home base in California, Tossofthecoin recently finished fourth in the Will Rogers Stakes, so he doesn't seem to be a total flop.
As for Arinthod's chances in the Belmont, he has several things going for him.
He's the only Belmont starter to have run 1 1/2 miles, finishing fifth on May 9 in a Grade II turf stakes at Longchamps.
He will be ridden by California's leading rider, Kent Desormeaux.
He is a fresh horse, having made only two starts this year. If his workout yesterday is any indication, he can handle the Belmont strip even if he's never run on the dirt.
Arinthod also follows the trend of recent European horses who have fared well in the Belmont, such as 1990 winner Go And Go, 1992 runner-up My Memoirs and 1989 third-place finisher Le Voyageur.
The European horses fare well in the Belmont, said Barry Irwin, co-owner of My Memoirs, because "they're fitter. They are trained for endurance. The European horsemen will lay the body down because the horses won't break down [on the grass]. Here the trainers are afraid to work their horses past five-eighths of a mile, because they think they'll break them down."
Even though McAnally is looking after Arinthod at Belmont this week, Boutin will be the trainer of record on the Belmont Stakes program.
Boutin, who is battling cancer, won't make it to New York. At the projected 5:31 p.m. Belmont post time, it will be 11:31 p.m. in Paris and Boutin will likely be asleep.
"It was my suggestion that he run in Francois' name," McAnally said. "If the horse runs well, I think it will really boost his spirits."