Dunkirk working at Belmont Park on May 31.

Dunkirk working at Belmont Park on May 31.

Coglianese Photos/Alysse Jacobs

Haskin's Belmont Picks: No Dunkirk Evacuation

Warning: what you are about to read should be taken with extreme skepticism.

Warning: what you are about to read should be taken with extreme skepticism. Not to sound self deprecating, but yours truly is on one nasty losing streak in the Triple Crown, and the selection for the Belmont Stakes will be made as a means of self defense.


After picking Dunkirk in the Kentucky Derby on “And They’re Off,” based solely on the belief he was special enough to overcome his inexperience, and then seeing him lose all chance at the start by stumbling badly, there is no choice but to go back to him for fear of deserting him and then having him win.


There is still a major concern about a son of Unbridled's Song getting a mile and a half, and although he’s done nothing wrong in the mornings, he also hasn’t done anything to get excited about and had several days of virtual inactivity early in the week.


I realize this does not exactly sound like a ringing endorsement for picking him in the Belmont, but I think he’ll be a decent price, despite his 4-1 morning line odds, and I still believe in this colt’s ability. He has shown signs of brilliance and the ability to overcome adversity, and he has the kind of long, graceful stride that should enable him to handle Belmont Park’s sweeping turns.


If I were looking at this race cold and going strictly by logic I would not look past Mine That Bird and Charitable Man. The latter is undefeated at Belmont and undefeated on the dirt, and is bred to get the mile and a half. He’s fresh, he’s been highly regarded since day one, and he looks like the logical horse to knock off Mine That Bird. And the pace scenario probably gives him an advantage over the Kentucky Derby winner.


Based on only two gallops in the slop, I have to like Mine That Bird to again run a huge race. This horse is like the Energizer bunny. You just wind him up in the morning and he goes out there and does what he does every morning. He is one of the best gallopers you’ll ever see, based on his enthusiasm, professionalism, consistency, and fluid, powerful strides. In short, he is a pleasure to watch, and mornings with him at Pimlico and Belmont will remain one of the personal highlights of this year’s Triple Crown


This is an extremely tough race to figure based on how the horses look. Chocolate Candy and Summer Bird have thrived since the Kentucky Derby, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see either one of them run big. For a big price, I’m looking for Flying Private to run huge. Wayne Lukas has him primed, and I like everything I’ve seen from him since he arrived at Belmont. All he needs is good racing luck, something he rarely gets. On Belmont’s big track, this should be where things finally fall into place for him. Even Lukas’ other colt, Luv Gov, has been doing very well, but his best days probably are ahead of him.


Two horses – Chocolate Candy and Mr. Hot Stuff – still are unproven on a fast dirt track, so if you don’t want to take the gamble they will handle it well enough to win that would narrow the field down. I love the fact that both horses shipped to Belmont early and have steadily improved since arriving.


So, although this is sort of a wishy-washy analysis, I’m going to use Dunkirk as my key horse, but it would not be wise to toss Mine That Bird and Charitable Man.


Now that I’ve gone out on a limb and given you the three top choices, I’ll throw in Flying Private to put some spice in any exotics bets.


Now for some offbeat betting angles. Consider a Barn 42 trifecta of Mine That Bird, Chocolate Candy, and Summer Bird, who all occupied Barn 42 at Churchill Downs. This makes little sense from a logical standpoint, but who cares about logic?


Another angle is boxing Mine That Bird, Charitable Man, and Summer Bird, who are all sired by Belmont and Travers winners.


Finally, you have Dunkirk, Charitable Man, and Mr. Hot Stuff, who are the only three horses ridden by a Belmont-winning jockey.


So, there you have it – Dunkirk, Mine That Bird, Charitable Man, and Flying Private in a trifecta box and hope Flying Private sneaks in there, and also a superfecta box, including Chocolate Candy.


What, did I not include one of Nick Zito’s horses with his record in the Belmont and his major theft last year? As they say, you can’t pick them all.

Want more of Steve? Watch him on "And They're Off.