06/04/2009 12:00AM

Belmont Stakes analysis


1. Charitable Man

2. Mine That Bird

3. Dunkirk

4. Chocolate Candy

Don't expect Charitable Man to be, well, charitable to his nine opponents in the Belmont. He is the best horse, and his tactical speed gives him an advantage in a race with little pace.

Barring the unexpected, the lead is his for the taking - unless by chance Miner's Escape or another longshot is surprisingly sent to the lead.

Even under that scenario, Charitable Man would likely be sitting pretty, just off a longshot leader's tepid pace.

Look for Alan Garcia to ride him just as he did in winning the Peter Pan. Garcia will let the colt place himself in a comfortable gallop and call for Charitable Man's best in the stretch.

Although untested beyond 1 1/8 miles, Charitable Man should excel at the Belmont's 1 1/2-mile distance. He is a son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, and he has relaxed kindly for Garcia in recent starts.

Additionally, Charitable Man is making his third start off a layoff - often the peak race of a horse's form cycle - and he is unbeaten in two starts at Belmont Park, his home base.

Late-running Mine That Bird proved he was no fluke by running second to Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, following up his stunning 50-1 Kentucky Derby victory. Now that he is considered for real, he is unlikely to offer value.

The return of jockey Calvin Borel in the saddle will further drive down his price. If Mine That Bird starts at 2-1 odds - his morning-line price - he is an underlay in a race that will likely unfold with slow fractions.

Dunkirk, like Charitable Man, is Belmont-based, although he has not raced at Belmont in his four-race career. One of the favorites heading into the Kentucky Derby following a second to Quality Road in the Florida Derby, he disappointed with an 11th-place finish.

Toss his Derby failure out. That was his first experience on a sloppy track, and the Churchill Downs' track and surroundings were unfamiliar to him.

Chocolate Candy ran decently to finish fifth in the Kentucky Derby in his first start on a traditional dirt track. He does not appear as fast as the top three but acts like a horse that should appreciate 1 1/2 miles. He could rally for a minor award.