06/04/2009 12:00AM

Belmont Stakes analysis


1. Mine That Bird

2. Summer Bird

3. Chocolate Candy

4. Flying Private

A brash prediction by jockey Calvin Borel is the only cloud over Mine That Bird into the Belmont. Borel proclaimed, "We're going to win it, no questions asked." It was a curious remark from a guy whose last victory at Belmont Park was July 10, 1999. Borel made no mistakes at Churchill Downs or Pimlico, however, and neither did Mine That Bird. Upset winner of the Kentucky Derby and runner-up through traffic in the Preakness, Mine That Bird is fast, seasoned, and the country's best 3-year-old male. Yes, deep closers do win this race (Jazil in '06, Afleet Alex in '05).

Summer Bird lost a ton of ground finishing a better-than-looked sixth in the Derby. He was three, four, and five wide to the far turn, and then floated even wider into the stretch before he flattened out. The lightly raced colt must overcome a serious lack of seasoning (four starts), but he has much upside and figures to start at a decent price. A one-two finish for Belmont-winning stallion Birdstone?

Chocolate Candy finished a respectable fifth in the Derby, skipped the Preakness, and enters the Belmont fresh and dangerous. He reportedly has trained well and should be positioned in front of the top pair into the far turn. Although Chocolate Candy was not the top-ranked 3-year-old from his region, that applies to most in this field. And other than the favorite, Chocolate Candy's fifth-place Derby finish was the highest of any Belmont starter.

Flying Private is on his way up. His fourth-place finish in the Preakness was the best of his career based on speed figures, and the 12-start veteran will be plugging away in the lane.

Charitable Man is a good, fast horse with two wins at Belmont and a solid victory last out in the Peter Pan. His sire, Lemon Drop Kid, was the most recent Belmont winner ('99) to exit the Peter Pan. The knocks on Charitable Man are odds and seasoning. He has had only four starts; every Belmont winner since 1990 has had at least five starts, and most have had six or more. The statistic may be another in a long line of bogus historical "rules," but at the likely short price, he is worth standing against.

Dunkirk stumbled badly away from the gate in the Derby. Not a good sign. Mr. Hot Stuff seems overmatched. Brave Victory will be forwardly placed and has a longshot chance to hit the board. Luv Gov and Miner's Escape do not appear to be fast enough.