2009 Belmont Stakes Picks

2009 Belmont Stakes Betting Favors Mine That Bird But Hell Need a Perfect Ride
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com

2009 Belmont Picks

1. Mine That Bird 2. Dunkirk 3. Charitable Man 4. Longshot - Miner’s Escape

Mine That Bird is the morning-line favorite at 2-1 in the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, but hell likely need a perfect ride to win it and that fact might be reflected in his odds at post time.

The Belmont Stakes has never been kind to horses that come from well back, and thats exactly what Mine That Bird did in his last two starts, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. His rail skimming Kentucky Derby victory proved to be no fluke when he came back with a smashing Preakness run that fell a length short of giving him a chance at the Triple Crown. But despite minor traffic problems in the Preakness, Mine That Bird was never going to beat star filly Rachel Alexandra, who gutted out a victory after putting away a tough speed horse. Mine That Bird might not even be the best horse in the 2009 Belmont, but at this point in the Triple Crown he is a proven commodity who will give his best. And dont forget, his sire Birdstone did win the 2004 Belmont Stakes.

Mine That Bird’s jockey Calvin Borel will attempt to become the first rider to win a Triple Crown on different horses in the 2009 Belmont, and while he is a capable rider, hell need to have the clock in his head working perfectly for this race. If a horse opens up and sets a slow pace and Borel lollygags at the back of the field as he did in the Derby and Preakness, there’s a very good chance hell get beat. If he stays too close to a contested pace Mine That Bird’s rally might lack its usual punch. Based on the fact that Mine That Bird will need a perfect ride to win, and that he is coming into the race off a double-top Beyer Speed Figure pattern, well be looking for odds of at least 2-1 or better. Anything lower and well be looking elsewhere for value.

The other main contenders in the 2009 Belmont Stakes have both talent and question marks.

We thought Dunkirk had a big shot in the Kentucky Derby after his great move against a track bias in the Florida Derby, but his inexperience and lack of seasoning showed up and he threw in the towel when the going got tough. Yes he had some minor trouble in the Kentucky Derby, but nothing that would have stopped a seriously good horse with seasoning and experience. Theres no question he has the talent to win. He also has a top-class pedigree that includes 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled on top and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy on the bottom. At 7/2 or better Dunkirk would be worth playing, and he might just go off at better than that with the money flowing towards Mine That Bird and hot horse Charitable Man.

The latter is another who has both talent and pedigree but who lacks seasoning. In his first start back after a seven-month layoff he finished seventh in the Bluegrass. In his second start off the layoff he romped in the Peter Pan at Belmont and looked good doing it after chasing a fast pace. His sire Lemon Drop Kid won the 1999 Belmont Stakes and his dam hails from the family of some classy shooters including proven route star Exceller. Charitable Man doesnt need the lead to win, but there is a possibility he could open up and put the field to sleep. If he does that he might just run away from the field, but there is some other speed and at underlay odds he just isnt as appealing as Dunkirk or Mine That Bird.

Chocolate Candy is a hard knocker who is probably a notch short of these on class and he has yet to crack the 100 Beyer mark, but he is a tryer who could slip into the superfecta. Mr. Hot Stuff is another who had an excuse in the Kentucky Derby but who just doesnt appear to be good enough on figures. Summer Bird wasnt quite ready to take on the best of the division when he finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, but he is fresh and is another who could fire his best shot and slip into the Belmont superfecta. Luv Gov made his first start against winners in the Preakness and finished eighth. He could improve off that race and his trainer Lukas has won this race four times. Lukas also saddles Flying Private in the Belmont, a horse who ran better than expected in the Preakness to finish fourth while also hurdling the 100 Beyer wall with a 102. He loses his rider to Charitable Man and remains yet another medium-priced longshot for the superfecta. Brave Victory comes into the Belmont off a third place finish beaten 5 lengths by Charitable Man in the Peter Pan. He just doesnt look good enough.

If youre looking for real longshot at big odds with a chance, maybe Miners Escape is your play. His angle would be to open up early, set a slow pace if he can get away with it, turn back Charitable Man and Dunkirk on the turn and then hold off a rallying Mine That Bird. Seems a bit of a stretch, but trainer Zito has won this race before with upsetters Birdstone in 2004 and Da Tara last year. Da Tara looked like he had no shot in the 2008 Belmont before posting his monster wire-to-wire win at 38-1. This horse doesnt look that good but - neither did Da Tara.

Well be playing either Dunkirk or Mine That Bird to win depending on the odds. Right now Dunkirk looks like the likely overlay price play. Well be using both Dunkirk and Mine That Bird first and second in the trifecta and superfecta with secondary key Charitable Man in all positions. We will also be using all horses on top on a few tickets with the hopes of a longshot score in the Belmont superfecta.

Good Luck!