For the 31st straight year there will be no Triple Crown winner. A filly who in racing circles is described as a “freak” saw to that with her win in the Preakness leaving Mine That Bird as the 12th horse to attempt to win the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. As always in the Belmont, there are “new shooters” waiting in the wings to play the spoiler for the horse who everyone says can’t lose. Who will pass the Test of the Champion?
Belmont Stakes ~ Grade I ~ Purse $1,000,000 ~ 1 1/2 Miles
Mine That Bird – Post 7 – Morning Line 2/1
He is the deserving morning line favorite after two very good races in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. His stunning 6 ¾ length win in the Derby and hard closing second in the Preakness have made him the one to beat and he should be closer to the lead with far less pace in this race. His sire, Bridstone, spoiled the Triple Crown bid of Smarty Jones a few years back. Jockey Calvin Borel has guaranteed victory. Borel is attempting to win a personal Triple Crown by winning all three races but on different horses.
Charitable Man – Post 6 – Morning Line 3/1
He is the likely horse to beat the top rival if anyone does. He is 2 for 2 at Belmont and 3 for 3 on regular dirt. After winning the Belmont Futurity last fall, he was off 7 months due to injury and was being pointed to later races this summer. This changed with a convincing 3 ¾ length win over this track in the Peter Pan. He will either be stalking Miner’s Escape or on the lead and a win here would be no surprise. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has been unusually vocal about his horse’s chances this week. Garcia is aboard and he won this race last year at 38/1 with Da’ Tara.
Dunkirk – Post 2 – Morning Line 4/1
Another who has the breeding for this distance but he has yet to live up to his $3.7 million price tag. He ran a very strong second to Quality Road in the Florida Derby but had a terrible trip in the Kentucky Derby to finish 11th over the very sloppy track at Churchill Downs that day. We should see if he is for real today and if so, he has a real shot at winning. Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velasquez won this race two years ago with Rags to Riches.
Chocolate Candy – Post 1 – Morning Line 10/1
He ran an impressive 2nd to Pioneerof The Nile in the Santa Anita Derby and ran a respectable 5th in the Kentucky Derby over the Churchill Downs slop in his first race on dirt. Trainer Hollendorfer skipped the Preakness to have a fresher horse here and Gomez takes the mount. If Gomez can keep him closer to the lead than he was in the Derby, he has a chance.
Flying Private – Post 8 – Morning Line 12/1
He is the only horse besides Mine That Bird to race in all three Triple Crown races this year. He finished a well beaten last in the Derby but closed well to finish 4th in the Preakness. He has not been able to beat top rivals to date but was much improved in the Preakness. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Belmont 4 times and jockey Leparoux has brought home more than his share of longshots. I would use him in the exotics.
Summer Bird – Post 4 – Morning Line 12/1
He ran 6th in the Kentucky Derby after being 7 wide on the turn and was a close 3rd to Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby before that. Birdstone was also his sire and a very positive jockey change to Desormeaux will help. He can certainly get the distance but would need to step up a bit to win here.
Others In The Race:
Mr. Hot Stuff – Post 3 – M/L 15/1 – Well beaten 15th in Derby in only dirt start. Prado takes the mount for Eoin Hardy.
Luv Guv – Post 5 – M/L 20/1 – 8th in Preakness and 1 for 11 lifetime. Mena who rode in only win is aboard for Lukas and MaryLou Whitney.
Miner’s Escape – Post 9 – M/L 15/1 – Should set the pace but lacks the class. Lezcano rides for Zito and Robert Lapenta.
Brave Victory – Post 10 – M/L 15/1 – 3rd in Peter Pan and is the best chance of the “others”. Maragh rides for Zito and Robert Lapenta.