J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman
the two-week gap between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, racing
fans will get a chance to look ahead to the final leg of the Triple Crown when
Belmont Park hosts the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II), a nine-furlong prep
race for the Belmont Stakes. Although the race has drawn just six entries,
there might be an opportunity to find some value on talented horses that are
poised to make some noise in the three-year-old division. Let's take a look at
Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II)
first thought in going over the field is that there isn't much early pace. Four
of the six starters haven't been anywhere near the early lead in recent starts,
which means that the speedy pair of Timeline
and Meantime could have a
in particular could be one to take advantage, as he appears to be a talented
colt with a very bright future. Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Hard Spun
broke his maiden sprinting seven furlongs at Gulfstream on March 4th,
rallying strongly in the homestretch to win by a half-length over next-out
winner Giuseppe the Great. A month later, he shipped to Aqueduct and crushed
five rivals in a one-mile allowance optional claiming race, cruising to victory
by 13 lengths while earning massive speed figures-a 101 Beyer and a 104 BRIS,
two figures that tower over those earned by his rivals.
this impressive victory was achieved with a perfect trip over a sloppy track,
but Timeline could be poised to receive an identical setup this Saturday.
Another wet track is a definite possibility, and with Meantime appearing likely to set the pace, Timeline should have a
target to chase and could work out another perfect trip. I think Timeline looks
like a potential contender for the Belmont Stakes and will be difficult to
defeat in the Peter Pan.
brings respectable form into this race; after competing well in Florida against
the likes of Patch, Take Your Guns,
and Time to Travel, Meantime shipped to Keeneland and romped to victory in a
nine-furlong maiden race at Keeneland, winning by 7 ½ lengths over a sloppy
track. He figures to set the pace in the Peter Pan, but he was slowing down at
the end of his maiden win (running the final three furlongs in :39.97 seconds),
and even if he gets another wet track I think it could be tricky for him to
hold off Timeline and some of the closers.
major contender is Master Plan, who
could receive a lot of wagering support off his third-place finish in the Group
2 UAE Derby on March 25th, in which he rallied to finish just 1 ¼
lengths behind Thunder Snow and Epicharis, the latter being a candidate for the
Belmont Stakes. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Master Plan had previously won the
OBS Championship Stakes and finished a strong second behind Kentucky Derby
runner Tapwrit in the Pulpit Stakes over a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park.
while Master Plan's form lines are strong, he doesn't have much early speed and
could find the conditions of the Peter Pan to be less than ideal for his
late-running style; the one-turn nature of the race could put him at a
disadvantage, and Master Plan will also be carrying four pounds more than his
rivals. Master Plan strikes me as the type that could get outrun in the Peter
Pan before having a much bigger impact in the Belmont Stakes, similar to horses
like Drosselmeyer (winner in 2010) and Commissioner (runner-up in 2014).
this in mind, I view Impressive Edge
as an intriguing candidate to finish in the exacta. After showing talent sprinting
in Florida this winter (he even defeated Kentucky Derby runner Patch in a
maiden race), Impressive Edge stretched out to nine furlongs in the Florida
Derby (gr. I) and ran an even race to finish fourth behind Always Dreaming,
State of Honor, and Gunnevera, three colts that competed in the Kentucky Derby
(with Always Dreaming winning). To run that well against such a deep field says
something about Impressive Edge's talent, and I get the feeling he could work
out an ideal trip tracking the early leaders before hanging around for strong
out the field are Lookin At Blessing and
Take Your Guns. The former has not
cracked the trifecta in six starts dating back to last year, but did break his
maiden in gate-to-wire fashion at Belmont Park. It's possible that a return to Belmont
could bring about an improved performance from this son of Lookin at Lucky, who
is bred to handle a wet track and might be one to consider for the exotics at a
big price. Take Your Guns finished
third in his debut at Gulfstream behind Patch and Meantime, then stretched out
to nine furlongs and won a maiden race at Keeneland by 2 ½ lengths. But much
like Meantime, he didn't finish particularly fast in his maiden win (running
the final three furlongs in :38.76 off a modest six furlongs in 1:13.18), and
while a slow track surely contributed to those fractions, the race came back
rather slow on the speed figure scales.
to recap, I view Timeline as the
horse to beat and will pick him to win in hopes that Master Plan will start as the favorite thanks to his reputation and
record in stakes company. I might also take a shot with Impressive Edge to round out the exacta, since his ability to race within
striking range of a solid pace could give him an advantage over Master Plan.
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 www.theturfboard.com.