NEW YORK – This was a Belmont for the Birds.
It was Summer Bird, not Mine That Bird and jockey Calvin Borel, who came roaring down the long stretch and won the final jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday.
The upset ended Borel's bid to become the first jockey to win a personal Triple Crown, and he failed to deliver on a guarantee that he would win the Belmont with the little gelding. Borel won the Kentucky Derby aboard Mine That Bird, then won the Preakness with Rachel Alexandra.
Summer Bird, sent off at 11-1 odds, blew past Dunkirk and Mine That Bird to give jockey Kent Desormeaux a Belmont Stakes victory he desperately wanted.
With the crowd cheering on the leaders in stretch, Mine That Bird made a huge move outside and took a brief lead over Dunkirk.
But it was Summer Bird who pulled away for a 2 3/4-length victory over Dunkirk. Mine That Bird was third in the field of 10 3-year-olds.
"I thought I was home free," Borel said, "but the other horses galloped by."
They sure did, and there wasn't any happier rider than Desormeaux. Last year, he won the Derby and Preakness aboard Big Brown, only to have to pull up the colt in the Belmont. And in 1998, he brought Real Quiet into the Belmont for a Triple try only to get beat by Victory Gallop by a nose in a photo finish.
"I hope from now on we'll talk about winning one," Desormeaux said.
There was an inquiry filed by the jockey of Charitable Man, Alan Garcia, against Dunkirk for interference, but it was disallowed by the racing stewards.