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McNamara's Belmont horse-by-horse analysis

BRAVE VICTORY

Post: 10

Odds:15-1

Trainer: Nick Zito

Rider: Rajiv Maragh

Last three: 4-7-3

Zito and owner Robert LaPenta stole last year's Belmont with 38-1 shot Da' Tara. Besides his connections, there's nothing to recommend a colt who's 0-for-5 in graded stakes and winless beyond 7 furlongs.

CHARITABLE MAN

Post: 6

Odds: 3-1

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Rider: Alan Garcia

Last three: 1-7-1

Looked very good winning the Peter Pan, and his sire, Lemon Drop Kid, upset the 1999 Belmont. McLaughlin won the 2006 Belmont with Jazil, and Garcia is among the country's top young jockeys. He's 2-for-2 at Belmont, should get the distance and looms the controlling speed. Beat him to win.

CHOCOLATE CANDY

Post: 1

Odds: 10-1

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Rider: Garrett Gomez

Last three: 1-2-5

Should handle 12 furlongs better than most, but is he fast enough? Grinder is 7-for-10 in the money, but he's 0-for-3 against Grade I fields. He fits better underneath in triples and superfectas than on top.

DUNKIRK

Post: 2

Odds: 4-1

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Rider: John Velazquez

Last three: 1-2-11

Despite not racing at 2, he was highly regarded for the Derby, where he stumbled badly, was steadied early and never had a chance. Throw that race out. He's been working well at Belmont and getting little attention, which will aid his price. Long-striding galloper's style should fit well; major threat.

FLYING PRIVATE

Post: 8

Odds: 12-1

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Rider: Julien Leparoux

Last three: 5-19-4

Lukas didn't become an all-time great by getting easily discouraged. After Flying Private finished last in the Derby, he ran him in the Preakness, where he was fourth despite traffic problems. He's 1-for-12, on an 11-race losing streak, but might pass faders and run fourth again.

LUV GOV

Post: 5

Odds: 20-1

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Rider: Miguel Mena

Last three: 2-1-8

Like Flying Private, he's eligible for a non-winners-of-1 allowance (1-for-11). His sire, Ten Most Wanted, ran a close second to Empire Maker in the 2003 Belmont, so Luv Gov's distance pedigree is better than his record. Owner-breeder Marylou Whitney and husband John Hendrickson got the name from a headline about former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned last year amid a sex scandal.

MINER'S ESCAPE

Post 9:

Odds: 15-1

Trainer: Nick Zito

Rider: Jose Lezcano

Last three: 4-1-1

Needed six starts to break his maiden, and his highlight is winning the ungraded Tesio Stakes at Pimlico. He takes a quantum leap in class with poor figures; forget him.

MINE THAT BIRD

Post: 7

Odds: 2-1

Trainer: Chip Woolley

Rider: Calvin Borel

Last three: 4-1-2

Few alleged experts, including me, gave him any chance at Churchill. At Pimlico the little gelding again defied conventional wisdom (words that don't belong together) by proving his 50-1 Derby shocker was no fluke. With a better trip and another 100 yards he probably would have caught Rachel Alexandra and be going for the Triple Crown. Deep-closing style might not be as effective at 1½ miles, but he deserves serious consideration.

MR. HOT STUFF

Post: 3

Odds: 15-1

Trainer: Eoin Harty

Rider: Edgar Prado

Last three: 3-3-15

He might have the field's best distance bloodlines (by Tiznow out of a Turkoman mare), but with no tactical speed he's always at the mercy of the pace. Unless the race falls apart, he'll probably just pass tired horses late.

SUMMER BIRD

Post: 4

Odds: 12-1

Trainer: Tim Ice

Rider: Kent Desormeaux

Last three: 1-3-6

Like Mine That Bird, he's by 2004 Belmont/Travers winner Birdstone, but this guy hasn't inherited as many good genes as the Derby winner. Sixth-place Derby finisher has run only four times, so there's lots of upside potential. Worth using in exotics, but can't see him winning.

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