J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman
that the Kentucky Derby is over, things are starting to calm down a bit in the
world of Thoroughbred horse racing, but that doesn't mean this weekend is going
to be a quiet one! A quality group of stakes races is on the agenda, led by the
$200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park, a major prep for the June
11th Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Let's take a look at the entries!
|1||Supah Czech||Jose Lezcano||Michael Gorham||1st Maiden Special Weight (VIDEO)|
|2||Singleton||Manuel Franco||Nick Zito||4th Maiden Special Weight (VIDEO)|
|3||Adventist||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Leah Gyarmati||3rd Wood Memorial (gr. I) (VIDEO)|
|4||Decorated Soldier||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||1st Northern Spur Stakes (VIDEO)|
|5||Governor Malibu||Joel Rosario||Christophe Clement||2nd Federico Tesio Stakes (VIDEO)|
|6||Wild About Deb||Trevor McCarthy||Philip D’Amato||1st Maiden Special Weight (VIDEO)|
|7||Unified||Jose Ortiz||Jimmy Jerkens||1st Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO)|
|8||Lost Iron||Junior Alvarado||Bill Mott||1st Maiden Special Weight (VIDEO)|
of the best-known horses in the Peter Pan is Adventist, who broke his maiden by 11 ¼ lengths in December at
Aqueduct before finishing third in the Withers Stakes (gr. III), Gotham Stakes
(gr. III), and Wood Memorial (gr. III), beaten by an average of just two
lengths in each race. These performances left him just short of qualifying to
the Kentucky Derby, and thanks to his solid record in graded stakes company and
status as a Derby contender, he should draw a lot of wagering support in the Peter
the Peter Pan will mark Adventist's first start away from Aqueduct, and the
form of Aqueduct's Kentucky Derby prep races was not flattered when some of
Adventist's main rivals from the series-Shagaf, Outwork, and Trojan
Nation-finished well back in the Derby. Furthermore, Adventist received pretty
ideal trips in both the Wood Memorial and Gotham, settling off the pace in
races that featured solid early paces and very slow closing fractions, but he still
couldn't seal the deal.
these reasons, I think Adventist can be beaten, and I think Unified is the most likely to do so.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Unified is unbeaten and unchallenged in two starts so
far, winning a six-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream by three lengths
in 1:08.95 seconds before following up with a similarly easy win in the
seven-furlong Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, in which he stopped the
clock in 1:22.86.
Unified run, it's easy to get the feeling that you're watching something
special, like a future grade I winner in action. Although he's only sprinted so
far, his pedigree (by Candy Ride out of the Dixie Union mare Union City) is
strong, and I don't think he'll have any trouble with the nine furlongs of the
Peter Pan Stakes, especially since the race is held around one turn.
Furthermore, as the only true front-runner in the race, he should be able to
seize the early advantage and control the pace, although drawing post seven
gives him the option of settling off the lead as well. To me, Unified looks
like a very talented horse that will be tough to beat in this race.
the exacta and trifecta, I would strongly consider Decorated Soldier and Wild
About Deb. The former broke his maiden by 7 ½ lengths at Tampa Bay Downs on
March 12th, then stretched out to a mile and overcame a very wide
trip to win the Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn by a neck. Trained by Todd
Pletcher, who has won the Peter Pan three times, Decorated Soldier has
excellent tactical speed and a grinding style that suggests he could do well
with more distance. I think he could wind up being a legitimate Belmont Stakes
contender, so I wouldn't overlook him this Saturday.
for Wild About Deb, he finished
second to the future stakes winner Uncle Lino in his debut at Del Mar last
November, then returned from a four-month layoff to win a nine-furlong maiden
special weight at Santa Anita in 1:49.02 seconds. That race was on the same day
as the Santa Anita Derby, and Wild About Deb actually recorded a faster final
time than Exaggerator did in the feature race, although the track seemed to
slow down as the day went on and Wild About Deb received a Beyer speed figure
of 90 compared to Exaggerator's 103. Still, Wild About Deb's performance was
eye-catching, as he won by six lengths with the talented next-out maiden winner
Prince of Arabia finishing third.
how well California-based three-year-olds have performed while shipping out of
town this year-Nyquist and Exaggerator ran 1-2 in the Kentucky Derby, Cupid and
Collected have won graded stakes races, and the maidens Laoban, Trojan Nation,
and One More Round placed in graded stakes races-I think it would be wise to
give Wild About Deb a very close look in the Peter Pan Stakes. Although I still
believe Unified is the most likely winner, Wild About Deb could offer great
value for the exacta, and in the event that Unified goes off at a short price,
Wild About Deb could be worth a win bet and inclusion in the multi-race wagers
would also like to briefly mention Governor
Malibu, who has crossed the finish line first in three straight races,
including the nine-furlong Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park, which he won
by a nose before being disqualified to second. He's got a nice record and has
faced some good horses, including the two-time stakes winner Awesome Speed, but
against a field of this caliber, the bottom of the superfecta might be the best
he can achieve.
it's your turn! Who do you like in the Peter Pan Stakes?
J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, blogger, videographer, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website http://www.theturfboard.com/.