06/02/2009 5:06PM

What Price Mine That Bird?

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 LongtailedweaselI'm beginning to think that anything better than even-money on Mine That Bird in the Belmont might be stealing -- and I think his price is indeed going to better.

Now before you point that canister of Weasel-Away in my direction, I'm usually not a chalk-eating rodent when it comes to the Belmont. Horses going for the Triple Crown may be the biggest underlays in racing, and I picked and bet against Big Brown and Smarty Jones at 3-10 in recent years. If Mine That Bird were in that position and price, I'd be lining up against him. But at the 7-5 or 8-5 most people are predicting, and with the 2-3-4 Derby finishers and 1-3 Preakness finishers absent from the Belmont, maybe he'll be as underbet Saturday as he would have been overbet had he won at Pimlico.

Here's how the betting went in the last six Belmonts where there was no Triple Crown on the line:

My guess is that Mine That Bird will be more like Aptitude's 1.75-1 than Point Given's 13-10 or Afleet Alex's 11-10. The latter two were coming off decisive Preakness victories that properly led bettors to believe they had asserted themselves as superior to their Triple Crown classes. But if you take Rachel Alexandra and Musket Man out of the Preakness, didn't Mine That Bird "win" with a similar kind of authority?

My feeling as of Tuesday is that the place to get cute in this Belmont is by opposing the second choice rather than the favorite. Charitable Man is obviously a horse of quality, but I wasn't as knocked out by his Peter Pan as others were. It didn't come up that strong against the clock -- his winning Beyer of 98 was the second slowest since 1991 -- and he couldn't have had a dreamier set-up: One rank horse in front of him running off to a big lead and chucking on the turn, while Charitable Man sat second and then took over with a "burst" that may have been a bit of an optical illusion.

Saturday's card will be drawn Wednesday morning. If you're looking for something to do in the meantime, there's a $48k pick-6 carryover when Belmont reopens tomorrow,and it looks playable -- just two buried firsters and one turf sprint in the sequence. The featured 8th, a N1x for turf fillies, is the DRF Race of the Day. Stakes-placed Blitzen Too and Forest Trail are the obvious favorites but look like the right ones.