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Jun 05, 2009

Mine That Bird takes on nine in the Belmont; Borel tries for history


Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird heads a field of 10 three-year-olds for Saturday's 141st running of the Belmont Stakes.

The 1 1/2 mile Test of Champions is the final leg of racing's Triple Crown with a $1 million purse.

Mine That Bird has been installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite and will again be ridden by Calvin Borel, who guided the gelding to a stunning victory as a 50-1 longshot in the Run for the Roses on May 2. The pair will break from post seven.

Borel switched to the filly Rachel Alexandra for the Preakness Stakes and rode her to the winner's circle in Baltimore. The filly was not entered in the Belmont Stakes.

"He (Borel) won us a Derby," stated trainer Chip Woolley, "and we were committed to letting him ride for us, if possible. So we're really glad to have him back."

Borel can become the first jockey to sweep the Triple Crown races aboard two different horses in the same year.

"We're going to win it, no questions asked," Borel said Monday about Saturday's event.

"I'm just going to ride it like it comes up, you know," Borel added. "It's nothing different -- just turn left when you get in the turns. It's like any other racetrack. With three races back-to-back like that, you just want him to go into the race happy and I think Chip's got him happy. So we're to hope for the best and have a good trip and, like I said, I want to thank them for putting me back on the colt and giving me this much time."

Two years ago Borel rode Street Sense to victory in the Kentucky Derby and was second in the Preakness to Curlin. When the filly Rags to Riches won the Belmont Stakes, however, he did not have a mount.

Mike Smith, who rode Mine That Bird to second in the Preakness, was unavailable for the Belmont due to a previous commitment at Hollywood Park.

Owned by Double Eagle Farm and Bueno Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird is the winner of five of 10 career starts with $2,011,581 in earnings.

The gelding was fourth to Kelly Leak in the Sunland Derby prior to the Run for the Roses and was second in the Borderland Derby, both at Sunland Park in New Mexico.

He began his career at Woodbine Race Course in Canada and was voted Canada's champion two-year-old following three straight stakes victories at the Toronto track. Mine That Bird was 12th to Midshipman in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile to close 2008.

A win in the 1 1/2 mile race would make Mine That Bird the 12th thoroughbred to capture the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, without a win in the Preakness, and the first since Thunder Gulch in 1995.

The 3-1 second pick is Peter Pan Stakes winner Charitable Man. The colt will be ridden by Alan Garcia from post six.

Charitable Man is owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Warren and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who sent out Jazil to victory in the 2006 Belmont. Charitable Man was seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes and has career earnings of $307,200 with three wins in four starts.

Florida Derby runner-up Dunkirk is the 4-1 third choice with John Velazquez in the saddle. The pair will break from post two for trainer Todd Pletcher, who recorded his lone Triple Crown race win with Rags to Riches here two years ago.

Dunkirk, owned by Mrs. John Mangier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith, received a lot of consideration going into the Kentucky Derby off his first two career starts this year and his second-place finish to Quality Road in the Florida Derby.

He was 5-1 for the Kentucky Derby, but finished 11th, 19 lengths behind Mine That Bird. Edgar Prado had the mount in the Run for the Roses. Dunkirk has won two of four starts for $193,200.

Here is the complete field for the Belmont Stakes in post position order: Chocolate Candy, 10-1, Garrett Gomez; Dunkirk, 4-1, John Velazquez; Mr. Hot Stuff, 15-1, Edgar Prado; Summer Bird, 12-1, Kent Desormeaux; Luv Gov, 20-1, Miguel Mena; Charitable Man, 3-1, Alan Garcia; Mine That Bird, 2-1, Calvin Borel; Flying Private, 12-1, Julien Leparoux; Miner's Escape, 15-1, Jose Lezcano; Brave Victory, 15-1, Rajiv Maragh.

The Belmont Stakes has a 6:27 p.m. (et) post-time and will be broadcast by ABC. The weather forecast for the race calls for partly sunny skies with a post-time temperature near 75.

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