Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mine That Bird takes lead in latest Belmont poll

Photo: Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mine That Bird took top spot in the weekly THOROUGHBRED TIMES poll of contenders for May 26 leading up to the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

by Ron Parker

Rachel Alexandra’s narrow lead over Mine That Bird in the first weekly poll of Belmont Stakes (G1) hopefuls slipped away this week as voters gave the nod to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner over the Preakness Stakes (G1) winner, 147 points to 141 points.

THOROUGHBRED TIMES publishes a weekly poll of the top ten Triple Crown contenders based on a vote from its editors, reporters, and correspondents with a first-place vote worth ten points, second worth nine points, etc.

To view the poll on the THOROUGHBRED TIMES Road to the Triple Crown website, click here.

The top two contenders both have been working well at Churchill Downs with Belmont-bound Mine That Bird posting a four-furlong breeze in :51 on May 25 over a sloppy track.

“It was perfect,” trainer Bennie “Chip” Wooley Jr. said. “I didn’t want anything like the :49 of before the Preakness.

“I just wanted him to stretch his legs a bit. He will step it up next Monday [June 1] and then fly to New York on Wednesday.”

While Mine That Bird’s connections have been pointing for the Belmont since the gelding finished second in the Preakness (video), majority owner Jess Jackson has yet to commit Rachel Alexandra to the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Jackson has been keeping a close eye on the filly before deciding if she appears ready for the 1 ½-mile Belmont or should wait until the 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose Stakes (G1) against fillies on June 27 at Belmont Park

“The key thing is her attitude,” Jackson said. “She thinks she can run through a brick wall. We need to pull her back a little bit because she wants to run. My primary concern is the horse herself. I’d like to keep her around and let the public enjoy her. She is special. I don’t want to push her past her limits.”