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Tuesday Top Five: Belmont hopefuls

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Jockey Calvin Borel has a chance at the Triple Crown this summer, even if no horse does. He rode Mine That Bird to victory in the Kentucky Derby, than jumped to filly Rachel Alexandra and won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. (Mine That Bird was a fast-closing second.)

There’s no guarantee Rachel Alexandra will run in the Belmont Stakes on June 6, and even if she does, the 1 1/2-mile distance will be an even tougher test than the Preakness.

But with top 3-year-olds like Quality Road and I Want Revenge still expected to be out and Derby favorites Friesan Fire and Pioneerof The Nile skipping the Belmont, she’s the favorite for the Belmont right now if she runs it — and sitting atop Tuesday’s Top Five:

5. Flying Private — After finishing dead last in the Kentucky Derby, took a well-placed fourth in the Preakness at 50-1. Appears to be moving in the right direction.

4. Chocolate Candy — Went straight to New York to prepare for the Belmont after finishing fifth at Churchill Downs, so despite being a California horse could have a bit of a home-track advantage.

3. Dunkirk — Skipped the Preakness after finishing a disappointing 11th in the Derby, but the rough start there really threw the lightly raced colt off his stride. Should be better prepared this time around.

2. Mine That Bird — Continued to prove his skeptics wrong with a hard-charging finish at Pimlico. The deep closer could be an even bigger threat in the Belmont with the increased distance, especially if Borel is back aboard.

1. Rachel Alexandra — Fillies this young just aren’t supposed to be able to run like that. Makes you wonder what she could have done in the Derby. Still, if her connections decide to skip the Belmont because it’s too much to ask of her at this point, you couldn’t hold it against them.

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About the blogger

Luke has worked for The N&O since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist in August 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at (919) 829-8947, @LukeDeCock on Twitter or luke.decock@newsobserver.com.
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