Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Bird Wins Belmont

Belmont Park

Well, a "Bird" won the Belmont as everyone thought would happen. However, it was the other son of Birdstone, Summer Bird, not Mine That Bird.

In a change of style, Dunkirk set the pace for the first mile of the race leading the way over Miner's Escape, Mr. Hot Stuff and Charitable Man. Mine That Bird did not seem comfortable in the paddock and in the post parade. In the race, he was pulling on jockey Calvin Borel to go before it was time. Instead of the perfect rail trip, Borel had to go outside entering the backstretch and raced wide throughout but made his big move entering the stretch. At the 1/16th pole, he was set to overtake Dunkirk for the lead.

This time, it was Summer Bird and Kent Desormeaux who had the ground saving rail trip to start a strong move at the 5/16th pole and pulled away from Dunkirk and Mine That Bird with 1/16th of a mile to go to win by 2 3/4 lengths. In the meantime, Dunkirk fought back to overtake Mine That Bird for the place spot and Mine That Bird finished 3rd while Charitable Man was 4th.

The result meant that there would be no personal "Calvin" Triple Crown by winning the three races on different horses. This was also the 31st year without an actual Triple Crown since Affirmed outdualed Alydar in this race in 1978 but that possibility ended when Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness over Derby winner Mine That Bird.

The victory was a huge bit of redemption for Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux after the terrible outcome on Big Brown last year where he pulled the odds on favorite up and finished last and the 1998 Belmont where where he lost the Triple Crown by less than a nose when Real Quiet was passed at the wire by Victory Gallop leaving many to say that Desormeaux moved too early in that race. In interviews this week, Desormeaux had been saying that as a member of the Hall of Fame, his career would be incomplete without a Belmont victory. This time he got that victory on Summer Bird.