Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Belmont Stakes 2009: Update

OK Horse fans, as we hoped, Rachel Alexandra has pulled out. She is a great filly, but the Belmont is just too far for her. She will do well as a seasoned filly and it made no sense to risk breaking her in this one. At present, she is posing for Vogue! Fashionable lady....

This makes Mine That Bird,(5th photo) Kentucky Derby winner, the unchallenged favorite. Calvin Borel, his Derby jockey, is back which will give him a great chance to finish in the top 3 if not on top.

If Calvin wins this one, he will be a Triple Crown Jockey! For those of you who are not frequent bettors, this means the odds are not very good and a bet on him to win will not earn you much money. You might want to include him in the exotics.

We mentioned Charitable Man and Dunkirk last week as powerful long distance horses, and they are now tied in the betting odds for 2nd place at 5/1. Dunkirk was at 4/1 last week, and Charitable Man at 9/2.

Charitable Man (2nd photo) is undefeated at Belmont. His style is to be leading or stalking and Mine That Bird will have to run past him if he wants this win. And, Mine That Bird is tired after the first two legs of the Triple Crown. And, Dunkirk is less experienced, although built for the distance. Without a speed horse to push his pace, Charitable Man may well be out in front from the start.

Dunkirk (4th photo) was a favorite at the Kentucky Derby, and disappointed a lot of fans. Yet, inexperience is not an asset at the Derby. The big grey sat out the Preakness, has been practicing at Belmont and should have his best run. There's not a lot of news about Dunkirk. His jockey isn't making any predictions, but he has noted how competitive Dunkirk is and when he wants him to have an easy workout, he has to keep him away from other horses. His trainer, Todd Pletcher, is excited now by Dunkirk's stride. He seems a different horse from the gangly adolescent who ran at the Derby.

And, following the progress of last week to bet on the underdogs, Chocolate Candy (3rd photo) has moved from (14/1) to (12/1). Chocolate Candy has been at Belmont since the Derby. He's comfortable at the track and his last workout under rider Molina, he covered a half mile in :50.25. Molina says, "He just skips over the track.... I had to hold him back from going faster." His jockey, Mike Smith, can never be counted out.

Other odds are:

Flying Private moving from (25/1) to (16/1) just after his Preakness run where he exceeded expectations with a late run in the final quarter. He couldn't quite keep up with Mine That Bird.

Mr Hot Stuff at (22/1) is a beautiful horse and worth a look. He's had some good runs although his Derby was terrible. He has A seasoned Belmont winner on his back, Edgar Prado and a trainer who has done great preparation for the Belmont. Although he has several in his bloodline who won the Belmont or who like distance races on dirt, he didn't seem comfortable on the dirt at the Derby, and since then he has been on artificial track at Keeneland. He will be flying in to NY tomorrow, so he won't have much time on the dirt at Belmont. He is a closer and there isn't a speed horse....

Miner's Escape (30/1)(a Zito entry) was the winner of the Federico Tesio race at Pimlico. Zito doesn't give him as much confidence as he does to his partner, Brave Victory.

Summer Bird (35/1) has the same sire as Mine That Bird, Birdstone. He is a closer, and should like the distance. At the Derby, he had to go wide and only finished 6th, but he has shown some late speed which should do him well at Belmont. His jockey, Kent Desormeaux has had a week at Belmont to get to know him. Desormeaux used only hands to urge him and he increased his speed for every quarter and came out of the workout with more energy and enthusiasm than he had at the start. He is fit and ready. He has been training in blinkers and hind shoes with toe grabs that improve his stability on the dirt. His trainer, Tim Ice, began training only last summer. This will be his first visit to the Empire State Building, today.

Luv Guv (40/1) named after Eliot Spitzer only passed horses who went backwards past him in the Preakness.

Added this week are Brave Victory (25/1) who was third to Charitable Man's victory in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont the weekend after the Kentucky Derby and a Zito entry. And Nowhere to Hide (50/1) also a Zito entry, who showed less speed than Musket Man in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Musket Man will be sitting this one out to give him a better shot at the rest of the season.


So, where are we? There are a number of great horses at this year's Belmont which is going to make the bettor's choices difficult. Yet, we have some picks.

Starting with the best odds, these are all horses who have been resting and working out at Belmont:

Summer Bird at (35/1) (Top Photo) and the same sire as Mine That Bird, should not be counted out. These are good odds and he has a great jockey. He has new equipment and has been loving it at Belmont this week. He's feeling good.

Chocolate Candy at (12/1) is looking good. He's also been resting and working out at Belmont. He's also got a great jockey in Mike Smith.

Todd Pletcher never shows excitement and he is excited this week (in the same way he was not excited before the Derby) over the way Dunkirk (5/1) has been moving. He's a little bit of an unknown because we've never seen him really put it all together. He could do it this Saturday.

Charitable Man (5/1) (second photo) has been undefeated at Belmont. He is the most likely horse to take the lead (given the current entrants) and he has the stamina to keep going. The closers are going to have to run him down and he's not going to slow down for them.

Mine That Bird is hard to bet against, especially with Calvin Borel on his back because Calvin is red hot this year! But, odds are against any horse who has run the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He has to be tired, and he'll be up against 4 horses who are not. He is just coming to Belmont tomorrow, and he'll be racing against 4 horses who have been here for a few weeks. He will be flying in, and he'll be up against 4 horses who have made Belmont their home for the month of May. They know it wet, and dry. They know it warm and cool. They know the food and the sounds at night. I just don't think he can overcome all this. That is why there are so few Triple Crown winners.

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