The two main elements in predicting the ’09 Belmont Stakes outcome are pedigree and pace handicapping.
Pace makes the race, and Charitable Man looms the one to catch. He is 3-3 on conventional dirt and 2-2 at Belmont. He pulled off a wire job in 6.5f career bow and is capable of rating should another rival get aggressive.
Miner’s Escape does not appear as swift as Charitable Man, but the improving sort exits a pair of prominent throughout nine furlong tallies. Remember that Nick Zito trainee Da’ Tara pulled off a wire job upset in this race last year.
The expected tepid early pace may hurt the chances of Mine That Bird, but the SoCal synthetic horses are used to such a race shape, so keep an eye on Chocolate Candy and Mr. Hot Stuff. The former owns striking range positional speed, while the latter is more of a one-run sort.
Breeding matters in the Test of Champions, and a couple of past winners have offspring in this event.
2004 hero Birdstone is represented by Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. 1999 winner Lemon Drop Kid has pace threat Charitable Man.
Ten Most Wanted finished 2nd in the 2003 Belmont, and his son Luv Gov is set to contest the ’09 renewal.
Chocolate Candy has a strong pedigree. His sire Candy Ride won the 10f Pacific Classic in 2003, and damsire Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown in 1977. He also has 1978 Triple Crown runner-up Alydar playing a prominent role on the female side.
Dunkirk has a speed sire (Unbridled’s Song) and a stamina damsire (A.P. Indy). He has a ton of upside with only four starts under his belt.
Flying Private has a Derby winner (Fusaichi Pegasus-Unbridled) on both sides of his pedigree, but the Belmont will be his 9th start this year.
Miner’s Escape has the speed as mentioned above, and he has some pedigree power with Mineshaft-A.P. Indy on top and Broad Brush on bottom.
Mr. Hot Stuff lacks speed but makes up for it in the pedigree department. Colonel John’s baby brother (Tiznow-Turkoman) should run all day.
I’ll give the breeding award to Chocolate Candy, and Charitable Man wins the pace paper race. Miner’s Escape is the longshot special.