NEW YORK - Mine That Bird is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, when Calvin Borel will attempt to become the first jockey to win all three Triple Crown races with different horses.
Borel rode Mine That Bird to victory in the Kentucky Derby, won the Preakness Stakes aboard the filly Rachel Alexandra, and is back on Mine That Bird for the 11/2-mile Belmont.
A field of 10 3-year-olds was entered yesterday, with Mine That Bird drawing the No. 7 post position. Charitable Man, who missed the Derby and Preakness, was the second choice at 3-1. He drew the No. 6 post. Dunkirk is next at 4-1.
Borel guided Mine That Bird to a breathtaking last-to-first run along the rail to win the Derby by 63/4 lengths on May 2. The gelding finished a diminishing length behind Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness two weeks later, under Mike Smith, with another come-from-behind run.
In the Belmont, the longest and most grueling of the Triple Crown races, Mine That Bird may be closer to the leaders because the early pace is not as fast as in shorter races.
"That's what we're hoping for," Mine That Bird's trainer, Chip Woolley, said at the post- position draw at Belmont Park. "With his running style, we're going to have to let him run his race.
"When you start slowing the fractions down, if you let him run his same race, he's going to move way on up."
"If we can just be within 10 or 12 lengths of them, I feel comfortable he'll have enough to come kicking in," Woolley said.
Charitable Man, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 9, is expected to set the early pace, and that's just fine with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
"I wouldn't trade horses with anybody else," said McLaughlin, who won the 2006 Belmont with Jazil. "Our horse couldn't be doing any better, and we're very excited about the race."
Dunkirk, the third choice, will be ridden for the first time by John Velazquez.
The gray colt, trained by Todd Pletcher, will try to rebound from an 11th-place finish in the Derby. Pletcher said Dunkirk stumbled at the start, took four or five strides to right himself, and never got into the race.
Trainer Nick Zito, a two-time Belmont winner with Birdstone in 2004 and Da' Tara last year, has two chances to win again, with Brave Victory and Miner's Escape.
Rachel Alexandra was considered for the Belmont, but co-owner Jess Jackson decided Friday to pass.
Here is the field for Saturday's Grade I, $1 million Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, to be run at 11/2 miles at Belmont Park. The race will be televised by 6ABC, with coverage starting at 5 p.m.
1. Chocolate Candy Jerry Hollendorfer Garrett Gomez 10-1
2. Dunkirk Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 4-1
3. Mr. Hot Stuff Eion Harty Edgar Prado 15-1
4. Summer Bird Tim Ice Kent Desormeaux 12-1
5. Luv Gov D. Wayne Lukas Miguel Mena 20-1
6. Charitable Man K. McLaughlin Alan Garcia 3-1
7. Mine That Bird Chip Woolley Calvin Borel 2-1
8. Flying Private D. Wayne Lukas Julien Leparoux 12-1
9. Miner's Escape Nick Zito Jose Lezcano 15-1
10. Brave Victory Nick Zito Rajiv Maragh 15-1