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Unlikely 'Bird' swoops for Belmont

SUMMER Bird streaked down the stretch to overtake Kentucky Derby hero Mine That Bird and win the 141st running of the US$1 million Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York, on Saturday.

Summer Bird, racing at 11-1 odds with Kent Desormeaux aboard, won the mile and a half race going away by nearly three lengths in 2:27.54.

Dunkirk, co-second choice at 9-2 with John Velazquez up, finished second ahead of 6-5 favorite Mine That Bird, who made his anticipated charge earlier than expected.

Mine That Bird surged in front as he rounded the turn for the stretch but after taking the lead faded at the end.

"I felt I was on the best horse coming in," said Mine That Bird jockey Calvin Borel, who was trying to register a unique jockey Triple Crown sweep after steering filly Rachel Alexandra to victory in the Preakness. "We just got outrun."

Charitable Man, also rated 9-2, finished fourth of the 10 runners. Summer Bird, like Mine That Bird sired by 2004 Belmont winner Birdstone, paid US$25.80, US$9.30 and US$4.70 for a US$2 bet.

Sweet victory

The victory was especially sweet for Desormeaux, who had won three Kentucky Derby crowns and two Preakness Stakes but had tasted bitter disappointment in the Belmont.

Desormeaux entered 0-for-6 in the race, twice failing in bids to complete the Triple Crown. Last year he pulled up Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown and finished last as 38-1 longshot Da' Tara prevailed in the Belmont. In 1998, Victory Gallop edged him at the finish to deny him a Triple Crown sweep aboard Real Quiet.

"Last year's Belmont felt like swallowing a spoon sideways," Desormeaux said about his Belmont letdown.

"I tried to maintain my confidence and know that when God had it in my plans it would happen."

Desormeaux kept Summer Bird back and when he looked to make his move was surprised to see Mine That Bird already ahead of him on the fast track and was not sure he could overtake the gelding.

"This colt just laid down and took off," he said. "He exploded the last 500 yards. There was never any doubt. The only way Summer Bird was going to get beat was from someone coming from behind because he had dead aim on the leaders."


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