Timeline Steps Up in Peter Pan Stakes

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

During 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 the race!

Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II)

My 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 tactical advantage.

Timeline 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.

Granted, 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.

Meantime also 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.

Another 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.

But 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).

With 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 finish.

Rounding 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.

So 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.

Now 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.

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