By Jeff Frank
A Triple Crown for Calvin Borel?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Never in the history of horse racing has
a jockey won the Triple Crown on two different horses. Calvin Borel could
claim that distinction if Mine That Bird wins the Belmont Stakes.
Borel piloted the 50-1 longshot to victory in the Kentucky Derby, but chose to
ride the filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness. Some folks thought it was an
odd choice since it's extremely rare for a jockey to get off the Derby winner
in racing's second leg of the Triple Crown. However, it should be pointed out
that Borel was not Mine That Bird's regular rider.
When Jess Jackson purchased Rachel Alexandra and entered the filly in the
Preakness, it was almost a forgone conclusion that the two-time Kentucky Derby
winning jockey would stay with her. After all, he had ridden Rachel Alexandra
in her previous five efforts going all the way back to November of 2008.
Rachel proceeded to win the Preakness by a diminishing length, with Mine That
Bird (with Mike Smith aboard) rallying for second. The public clamored for the
rematch in the Belmont Stakes.
Expect to see Calvin Borel aboard Mine that Bird in the Belmont Stakes
Rachel Alexandra's connections waited to see how the daughter of Medaglia
d'Oro came out of the race before announcing she was a probable entrant in the
race. Finally, after 13 days of discussion, they decided it would be best to
withdraw her from consideration.
Throughout those two weeks, Mine That Bird's trainer Chip Woolley sat idly by
hoping she wouldn't run so a) his horse would have an improved chance of
winning and b) Borel would be freed up to ride his gelding.
Now, Mine That Bird will likely be the post time favorite for the Belmont
Stakes, and Borel will have a great chance at glory.
Ten jockeys have won the Triple Crown, including one (Eddie Arcaro) who pulled
off the feat twice. Can Borel become the first and only jockey to win it
aboard two horses in the same year? Mine That Bird is easily the most
accomplished horse in the race, with career earnings over $2 million.
Chocolate Candy is second with $592,500 and only one of the other nine
possible entrants can claim over $300,000 in career earnings - Charitable Man
Time now to break down the 11 possible entrants, beginning with the bottom
six. These are the colts that appear to be outclassed on paper, but as
witnessed last year when Da' Tara upset Big Brown, anything is possible.
Nowhere to Hide was a late entrant into the Kentucky Derby after the
defections of Win Willy and Square Eddie the week of the race. The 45-1
longshot showed why he wasn't a Derby contender for much of the spring,
finishing 17th on the first Saturday in May.
Prior to that effort, he ran fourth in three straight graded stakes - the
Risen Star and the Illinois and Tampa Bay Derbies, coming from off the pace in
the latter two. The February foal is bred to love 12 furlongs, as his
grandsire Seattle Slew swept the Triple Crown in 1977 while his second dam on
his maternal side is a full sister to Touch Gold, the winner of the 1997
It's doubtful he'll hit the board in the Belmont, but never count out a Zito-
trained horse that has the ability to thrive over a distance of ground. His
Birdstone denied Smarty Jones the Triple Crown in 2004, and Da' Tara did the
same to Big Brown last year.
Nowhere to Hide is listed as possible (not probable) as of Monday afternoon,
but if he runs, expect major improvement from the son of Vindication and a
third or fourth place finish is certainly not out of the question.
Brave Victory also comes from Zito's barn, but this colt is a major question
mark at the 1 1/2-miles distance. His only two-turn race came at 1 1/16-miles
over Polytrack at Keeneland, and his speed-laden pedigree makes him a definite
throw-out this coming Saturday.
D. Wayne Lukas will try to duplicate his 2000 Belmont Stakes win (with
Commendable) by fielding a pair of longshots.
Flying Private ran fourth in the Preakness at 25-1 after finishing last in the
Kentucky Derby from post 19. In his last race, jockey Alan Garcia rallied the
son of Fusaichi Pegasus on the inside of Mine That Bird, as the pair moved in-
hand around the far turn. Unfortunately, the bay colt was not quite good
enough to hit the board, finishing 2 1/2-lengths behind Musket Man for third
Look for Flying Private to "bounce" off his career best 102 Beyer and finish
closer to the back of the pack than the front half of the field in the Belmont
Luv Gov broke his maiden in his 10th start with a victory over a sloppy track
on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He followed that race with a lackluster
eighth-place finish in the Preakness.
His sire, Ten Most Wanted, ran second in the 2003 Belmont Stakes to Lemon Drop
Kid, but his dam side doesn't suggest he'll be able to flourish at 1 1/2-
miles. Luv Gov is an easy toss.
Mr. Hot Stuff has received more acclaim for being Colonel John's kid brother
than for his positive exploits on the track. He ran third in both the Sham
Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby but was never going to run down The
Pamplemousse or Pioneerof the Nile in either race. Moreover, he couldn't even
get past Take the Points or Chocolate Candy for second.
The son of Tiznow ran his first ever race on conventional dirt in the Kentucky
Derby, and it wasn't pretty. He defeated just four horses, two of which will
be in the starting gate at Belmont Park on Saturday. Save your money and wager
on someone else.
Summer Bird sports a new rider, as Kent Desormeaux takes over for Chris
Rosier. The colt also has a pedigree that screams for 12 furlongs. His sire
Birdstone was a Belmont Stakes winner while his dam side is filled with
multiple classic winners, such as Summer Squall, Alysheba, Secretariat, Alydar
and Northern Dancer.
The lightly-raced colt closed well for sixth in the Kentucky Derby at 43-1
after finishing third in the Arkansas Derby three weeks earlier. His 25 4/5
final quarter-mile in the Run for the Roses was the second-fastest in the race
behind Mine That Bird, and he'll benefit from the time off between races.
On the negative side, he has won just one race in his career, a 2 1/4-length
score in mid-March over Luv Gov. In addition, his racing style might leave him
with too much to do late in the race, the same scenario that will also
adversely affect Mr. Hot Stuff.
Of the six expected longshots, the only two worthy of any consideration are
Nowhere to Hide and Summer Bird. If a couple of the remaining five choices
fail to fire, one of the two could very well fill out the trifecta and/or
superfecta, with Nowhere to Hide getting the nod. If Zito decides to hold him
out, then Summer Bird is the best of the rest to keep in mind for all exotic