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2009 Belmont Stakes: On The Record

Yesterday we took a look at the Belmont undercard, so today, it’s time for the main event.

1 / Chocolate Candy / G. Gomez / J. Hollendorfer / 10-1
I’ve been excited about Chocolate Candy for a while, and I love that he’s getting Garrett Gomez. His fifth-place finish in the Derby was respectable, given the way that race was run, and of course his California record is not bad at all. Definitely one I’ll be watching, even though I haven’t gone back and re-jigged his West Coast Beyers as per the new synthetic formula.

2 / Dunkirk / J. Velazquez / T. Pletcher / 4-1
I did not like him in the Derby based on his lack of preparation, but for a horse making his fourth lifetime start, he actually ran pretty well, given what a terrible trip he had. I’m not usually a fan of Derby excuses, but he certainly had some legitimate ones. I don’t think he’ll win, but I do think he will be a factor.

3 / Mr. Hot Stuff / E. Prado / E. Harty / 15-1
While I like that he’s by Tiznow (and really like his dam’s pedigree) and I’m a fan of Eoin Harty, he doesn’t seem quite fast enough – he’s never won a stakes race.

4 / Summer Bird / K. Desormeaux / T. Ice / 12-1
Before the Derby, I wrote him off as being more of a Belmont horse – and while he’s got a great pedigree for this race, I was really put off by the jockey change from Joe Talamo to Kent Desormeaux. The Sheets folks love this horse, but his Beyers haven’t been spectacular. Feel free to pick your formula.

5 / Luv Gov / M. Mena / D. W. Lukas / 20-1
While it’s true a horse from Marylou Whitney’s stable has sprung the Belmont upset before, Birdstone had a much stronger resume coming into the race. He does seem to be improving, but it’s hard not to be with only a maiden win.

6 / Charitable Man / A. Garcia / K. McLaughlin / 3-1
His win over the Belmont track in the Peter Pan and his Belmont-winning sire are making him a popular choice; he’s still pretty lightly-raced, but he does have the services of Alan Garcia and clearly likes the track. Again, though, his Beyers are not that exciting and I wonder about the distance for him based on how much encouragement he needed in the Peter Pan.

7 / Mine That Bird / C. Borel / C. Woolley / 2-1
If you had informed me on May 1st that a little over a month later I’d be cheering for a little Birdstone gelding who had prepped in Canada and New Mexico, I would have assumed you were working on some sort of horse racing alternate universe parody. Yet here we are – and if you compare Early Period Bob Baffert to Chip Woolley’s position now, it’s not wildly dissimilar – have a look at this article from 1996 which speaks of Baffert training ‘…blue-light specials from K-mart’ to great success while D. Wayne Lukas had the best-bred horses handed to him.

But back to the horse himself – some have knocked his running style as not the best for the Belmont – yet that single move from near the back of the pack is exactly how his sire, Birdstone, won the race. The other caution, Calvin Borel’s lack of experience at Belmont, seems a more legitimate concern – but if he’s guaranteeing victory, hey, why not?

8 / Flying Private / J. Leparoux / D. W. Lukas / 12-1
I was actually somewhat impressed by his Preakness finish – but I don’t know that he’s going to improve off of that. His biggest asset, in my opinion, is having Julien Leparoux aboard – he’s going to be a busy man on Saturday.

9 / Miner’s Escape / J. Lezcano / N. Zito / 15-1
Zito-trained winner of the Federico Tesio has a really interesting pedigree (he’s by Mineshaft, his dam is by Broad Brush) but his resume is rather thin otherwise (and his Beyers are low). But if we’re working on the ‘bet a Zito longshot in the Belmont’ principle, he’s the one I would go with.

10 / Brave Victory / R. Maragh / N. Zito / 15-1
He was third in the Peter Pan, so at least he knows this track – but again, he was third in the Peter Pan. That will look a lot more impressive if Charitable Man wins, but he seems the weaker of the two Zito longshots.

Bring on the Calvin Crown! If I’m being forced to bet a dime superfecta, here it goes: Mine That Bird, Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk, Miner’s Escape.

I’ll be Twittering (@superfecta) and live-blogging all afternoon from Belmont – feel free to follow along!

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