Is Dunkirk a Threat to Win the Belmont Stakes?

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What do you do with Dunkirk in Saturday's 141st running of the Belmont Stakes?  The horse was thought of as a serious contender to win the Kentucky Derby but flopped, finishing 11th.  His trainer, Todd Pletcher, said he did not like the track at Churchill Downs.  If you listened closely to Pletcher during Derby week you could have picked up clues that he didn't like Dunkirk's chances in that race.  That is not the case this time with the Belmont Stakes Odds.

Dunkirk had a four-furlong drill at Belmont on Monday with jockey John Velazquez in the irons and Pletcher was very pleased. "You see his work this morning, you can see he's got terrific action, a smooth fluid stride and that's something we never saw at Churchill Downs," he said.   Pletcher really believes that Dunkirk is going to run a huge race on Saturday. "I do. He's a top quality horse. He has run well in three of his four races. I just draw a line through his Derby because I felt he never handled the surface from the beginning." Pletcher said.  Velazquez also believes Dunkirk will run well on Saturday, "He's probably the right horse, for the right distance, at the right time," Velazquez said. "The distance will help him more than anything else."

The concern that Pletcher has about Saturday's race is the pace.  It looks as if Charitable Man will have it his own way on the lead and Pletcher is concerned no other horse will be able to track him down.  And that includes Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. "I'm very concerned about the lack of pace," Pletcher said. "It looks to me that Charitable Man is going to be on an uncontested easy lead. On top of that Charitable Man is probably the horse to beat. He's coming off a win in the Peter Pan, he's 2-for-2 over the track, basically he has never been beaten on the dirt (his only loss was on the synthetic track at Keeneland). But most significantly of all, he's got a pace edge." Pletcher believes Charitable Man could be very tough to catch on an uncontested lead, even for Mine That Bird. "If there is no pace, it's going to be hard for him to catch a quality horse like Charitable Man if he goes the half in 49 seconds." he added.

With Mine That Bird getting most of the attention for the Belmont Stakes Betting it will be interesting to see how Dunkirk does going under the radar. "We skipped the Preakness and a lot of other horses are getting attention, I'll be interested to see how the public favors him on Saturday." Pletcher said.

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