BY JIM WELLS
So it’s Belmont Stakes Saturday and you still haven’t decided who you like.
You’ve studied the PPs, the speed figures and the dosage indices so laboriously that you can no longer read the fine print
Your heart jumps one way, your head tugs another. You can’t make up your mind to go with the sentimental choice _ who is also a good handicapping choice and the morning line favorite _ or get off the chalk and look at something fresh, such as Charitable Man?
Or was it the other way around?
For anyone arriving late to the party, the sentiment is oozing all over those small, muscular shoulders of Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness Stakes runnerup Mine That Bird, in some instances solely because of his rider.
The Cajun fellow, Calvin Borel, has the hearts and many of the minds of horseplayers across the nation. He’s likeable, enthusiastic and can become the first jockey to win the three classic races on two different horses.
Not everyone believes that Mine That Bird can win the 1 ½ -mile Belmont, but even many of the skeptics want Borel to set racing history and won’t mind losing a bob or two if he wins.
Still…there are plenty of analysts who believe that the Bird is indeed the Word.
“Nobody is going to beat him,” said Canterbury’s paddock analyst Kevin Borg. “He’ll roll past the rest of them like they’re tied to a post.”
If that’s too ambiguous for you, here are the thoughts of Canterbury racecaller Paul Allen:
“Mine That Bird can’t lose. He’s coming off two great races. If you get better than 7-5 on him it’s stealing.”
Canterbury’s media relations director Jeff Maday is jumping right back on the Bird after considering something different.
“With everyone going to Charitable Man, with all that steam, I’m going right to the chalk,” he said.
Owner Cam Casby didn’t hesitate to reveal her sentiments. “I want Calvin Borel all the way,” she said. “He’s the only jockey we’ve never heard a single bad word about. He’s good for racing.”
Jockey agent extraordinaire Richard Grunder agrees.
“I’ll root for Calvin,” he said. “He’s a great story and good for the game.”
A patron involved in a similar debate with some buddies Friday night had this to say:
“You know that Borel horse is a late runner and those closers don’t usually win a race this long. He’ll finish up the track.”
HBPA SCHEDULES ANNUAL FEED
The HBAP will hold its annual brunch and awards presentation on June 27 at Canterbury. The brunch is scheduled for 11 a.m. in the grandstand and will include the annual award presentation for horse of the year, owner of the year, jockey of the year and claimer of the meet.
The HBPA Mile Stakes will be run on the card that day, and the HBPA will give away 10 flat-screen television sets, one after each race.