This weekends Horse Racing Race of the Week takes us to BelmontPark in Elmont, New York for 2013 Peter Pan Stakes where Abraham has been installed as the tepid 7/2 morning line favorite.
The Peter Pan, which is run at nine furlongs and carries a purse of $200,000, is the perfect and traditional prep race for the third leg of the Triple Crown, Belmont Stakes.
Named after Hall of Fame inductee Peter Pan, who was champion three year old way back in 1907, the list of past winners is quite impressive and includes Gallant Man (1957), Coastal, who would spoil the great Spectacular Bid’s Triple Crown quest in 1979, the gorgeous Tap Shoes (1981), another gorgeous specimen Slew O’ Gold took his bowed neck to the finish line first in 1983. Eventual Breeders Cup Classic winners Proud Truth (1985), super sire Seeking the Gold (1988), the great A.P Indy (1992), and the speedy Twining in 1994.
More recently, Alternation won this race in 2011 and Mark Valeski last year.
Belmont Park – Saturday, May 11, 2013
Race 9 – 5:17 PM
Peter Pan Stakes (Grade 2)
For Three Year Olds
One And One Eighth Miles
|1||1||Freedom Child||3/R||L||L Saez||116||T Albertrani||
|2||2||My Name Is Michael||3/C||L||J Alvarado||116||W I Mott||
|3||3||Battier||3/C||L||J Rosario||118||T A Pletcher||
|4||4||Fear the Kitten||3/C||L||R Maragh||116||M J Maker||
|5||5||Abraham||3/C||L||J R Velazquez||116||T A Pletcher||
|6||6||Narvaez||3/G||L||C H Velasquez||116||A C Bezara||
|7||7||Saint Vigeur||3/C||L||J Castellano||116||C C Brown||
|8||8||Declan’s Warrior||3/C||L||J Lezcano||118||N P Zito||
|9||9||Go Get the Basil||3/C||L||I Ortiz, Jr.||116||R A Violette, Jr.||
|10||10||Incognito||3/C||M J Luzzi||116||K P McLaughlin||
|11||11||Infinite Magic||3/C||L1||E S Prado||118||R Ribaudo||
1) Declan’s Warrior– closed with a rush to win the Bay Shore Stakes by a head after being carried out five wide on the turn for home in his (impressive) last race.
Overall, he is 3 for 4 in his career (and a neck shy of being unbeaten) with all three of those wins having been “from out of the clouds” come from behind wins….which just so happens to be my favorite my running style.
Anyway, He’s recorded two strong works (4/25- 6F- 1:15 and 5/4- 4F- :48 both at Saratoga) since the Bayshore and, provided he gets a solid pace in front of him, he should be rolling down the stretch to catch some tiring front runners in this race too.
The only glaring concern is that he tries a distance of ground for the first time.
“Obviously, the good thing is, we’ve always thought he was a terrific horse,” said trainer Nick Zito. “He’s getting better, and this is a good time to be getting better. It’s a good time to stretch him out.”
“He’s doing very well,” Zito added. “We’re not really looking at this as a prep for the Belmont, but as a stakes race in its own right. He’s a good horse, and down the road he’s got a great future and a great career.”
2) Fear the Kitten– is 0 for 4 this year but, in all fairness, he’s chased runaway winners in his first two starts (Oxbow in the LeComte Stakes and Superninetynine in the Southwest Stakes) then closed well to finish just 3 3/4 lengths behind Black Onyx (Spiral Stakes) and then closed even stronger to finish a close fifth to Java’s War in the Bluegrass.
On paper at least, he faces no such rivals in this race, so you could look at it like he stepping down in class. That, to me, looks exactly like what he might need.
He is another who should be coming late in this race….and if the top choice can’t negotiate the stretch out in distance, then this guy becomes even more dangerous.
3) Abraham– I had a very difficult time trying to choose between this horse and Battier for my third choice but, in the end, I used one of the very basic handicapping rules to make my final decision.
That rule being, if your stuck between trying to separate two horses, take the horse that dropping down in company as opposed to stepping up in company.
That exactly the situation we have here….Abraham bobbled at the break of the Illinois Derby, (that’s the $750,000 Illinois Derby by the way) and quickly found himself towards the back of the pack (seventh). But he made a huge move on the turn to get himself into contention (third) but understandably tired from that effort and couldn’t sustain the rally and wound up fourth.
Looking back two races shows he battled with (runaway winner) Govenor Charlie early in the Sunland Park Derby (that’s the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby by the way) and held fairly well by finishing third.
“I haven’t really looked at this as a Belmont prep, but as a nice race on its own,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “Abraham ran a very good race in the Illinois Derby; he had a pretty difficult trip through no one’s fault. He’s an improving horse”
I expect a good race from this son of Distorted Humor on Saturday afternoon with the drop in company and assuming he gets a better start than in that last race.
The aforementioned Battier, who circled the field while going four wide at the head of the stretch to win his last (an overnight handicap at Aqueduct). He steps up in company come Saturday afternoon but you have to respect a horse who a) has speed figures that have improved in every race since his first and b) has never been worse than second in six lifetime starts. Infinite Magic is the proverbial dark horse having never even run on the traditional dirt surface and having just one race in this country. All told, He’s had six career races (five across the pond and on polytrack and one on the grass) and this colt by More Than Ready has only been off the board one time. That win on the grass (at Keeneland) was ultra impressive. He was taken back to last early on but just exploded down the lane to get his nose on the wire first. Lastly, if you use distance change in your handicapping process (the cut back in distance angle…like I do), then you have to like the fact he’s won at a longer distance. (Feb 1, in England at 1 ¼ miles)
“It’d be easy to keep him on the grass—there’s a grass overnight stakes on the same day as the Peter Pan—but when people invest money and take shots with 3-year-olds they’re hoping they can do something they haven’t done yet,” said trainer Bobby Ribaudo. “It’d be nice to see if he can handle the dirt, and then there’d be a lot of options for him.
“You don’t want to compare him to Animal Kingdom, but Barry Irwin did the same thing with Animal Kingdom, and everyone thought he was nuts,” Ribaudo added. “He ran on the synthetic, and the next thing you know he’s in the Kentucky Derby on the dirt and he wins.”
Good point Mr. Ribaudo, but this horse has a loooong way to go before we start comparing him with Animal Kingdom….12-1 on the morning line? Hey, listen, that’s not bad value…longshot possibility?
Incognito has now run huge (and recorded high speed figures in the process) in his last three in a row but steps up in company. “We know Incognito wants 1 1/2 miles,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “It’s a great tune up for an important race, and we think Incognito could go on to the Belmont if he runs well.”
My Name is Michael, seems to have gone off form in his last two and notice that six of seven career starts have been on synthetics. That being said, it’s that one race in his career that he had on the conventional dirt surface that’s getting my attention. Take a look at it and you’ll see he “closed fast too late” (to Derby runner Falling Sky) in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. If he duplicates that race on the Belmont surface (which he might) he’s got an outside shot in this race.
Record: 9-24 = 38%
2012: 24-74 = 32%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** NBC Sports reported about 16.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the Kentucky Derby last week which was a 9% increase from 2012 and the second-highest number since 1989, according to The Nielsen Ratings
The top 10 markets for viewers were:
1) Louisville, Ky. (of course)
2) Ft. Myers, Fla.
3) Cincinnati, Ohio
4) Knoxville, Tenn., and West Palm Beach, Fla. (in a tie)
6) Buffalo, N.Y.
7) Oklahoma City, Ok
8) Columbus, Ohio
9) Indianapolis, Ind.
10) Nashville, Tenn.
I found these statistics strange being that most of the cities listed; do not have a horse race track anywhere in their respective vicinities
**** Speaking of the 2013 Kentucky Derby, the winner, Orb, was on the track at his home base BelmontPark for the first time since his dominate win last weekend.
The Malibu Moon colt jogged a mile with Jenn Patterson aboard.
“The weather was terrible, so instead of galloping, he just jogged,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “It was a pretty miserable morning when he went out. But Jenn said he was feeling good and moving good. All signs are good”.
“I thought he jogged really well,” McGaughey added. “I was pleased with what I saw. Seemed to be good and settled in, wasn’t all frazzled. He’s been eating really, really well since Saturday. It seems to me that all systems are ‘go.'”
Though training plans changed due to the muddy track, McGaughey said Orb will gallop Thursday, rain or shine, and is likely to breeze May 13 before shipping to Pimlico the following day.
**** Nehro, runner-up in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, died of colic on Kentucky Derby Day while en route to the hospital
Trainer Steve Asmussen said the 5-year-old horse by Mineshaft fell ill Saturday morning and his condition “quickly spiraled badly.”
“I can’t put into words how much respect I have for Nehro,” Asmussen said. “He was loved by everyone around the barn. What a cool horse. Quality animal. Just a horrible, horrible deal.”
“I am deeply saddened,” owner Ahmed Zayat said. “Nehro was my favorite horse, whom I had a deep bond with. Everyone who came into contact with this horse loved him. He cannot be replaced, and I’m devastated.”
Along with his late running second (by three-quarters of a length to Animal Kingdom) in the Kentucky Derby, Nehro finished runner-up in the Arkansas Derby, Louisiana Derby, and the Pimlico Special.
**** Not to go unnoticed, 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan ran his winning streak to six races in a row as he cruised to victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic over yielding turf course on the under-card of the Kentucky Derby last Saturday at Churchill Downs
Breaking from the far outside post, Wise Dan rated back in third position on the outside of pacesetters Silver Max and Optimizer early before his move at quarter pole and, for all intensive purposes, the race was over at that point as the now six year old chestnut gelding drew away down the stretch to win by 4 ¾’s lengths and completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.4.
Jockey JJ Lezcano replaced regular rider John Velazquez aboard Wise Dan in the Woodford Reserve because Velazquez was committed to ride Point of Entry.
“He responded like a champion today,” said Lezcano. “He responded very well when I asked him for run. I had a perfect trip and he felt very comfortable out there. Last time, I had to keep him closer to a slow pace and today I was able to relax him on the backside.”
“What I worried about more than anything was it being slick,” trainer Charles LoPresti said. “That’s what I saw in the race. He was having trouble on the first turn. I could see he was having trouble getting hold of it down the backside. I told Lezcano the most important thing is to make sure he’s handling it good and to take care of him and save him until you really need to run as long as he’s getting a hold of it and he did perfect. He never hit him, because that’s what I told him.”
LoPresti said Wise Dan would now rest up until the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.
**** In a very sad bit of news, Betfair Hollywood Park told the California Horse Racing Board it won’t seek 2014 racing dates and will close permanently at the end of its fall meet Dec. 22.
Theclosure announcement was written and sent by HollywoodPark president Jack Liebau, who said the CHRB was informed this past Wednesday.
Hollywood’s announcement comes two weeks (May 23) before the CHRB is to begin consideration of race dates for the 2014 season.
The track is owned by Hollywood Park Land Co. and it has been slated for closure and redevelopment for years, but the project has stalled.
“When HollywoodPark was purchased in 2005 from Churchill Downs Inc., the Land Company stated that racing would continue for a minimum of three years, and promised that during the three-year period, a concerted effort would be made to improve racing’s business model,” Liebau said in the letter. “Without success, (the company) spent millions on two statewide initiatives that would have brought slot machines to Hollywood Park, and thereby assured the continuation of racing”.
“In the absence of a favorable change in racing’s business model, the ultimate development of the Hollywood property was inevitable. Sadly for we who love racing and HollywoodPark, it was simply a matter of time.”
Liebau acknowledged the “period of uncertainty” created problems for the horse racing industry in California.
“Over the next few months, the logistics of the pending closure will be worked out,” Liebau said. “You will be kept advised of the plans.”
The CHRB and horsemen in the state have been working on a contingency plan in case HollywoodPark closed. As of now it appears Santa Anita Park and Del Mar will race most of the dates in Southern California.
Fairplex Park, which has expressed interest in providing a year-round off-track training facility and San Luis Rey Downs, in Northern California, and announced plans to renovate its barn area and track beginning next month for expansion of its off-track training capability, also remain possibilities as a racing venue.
Thanks for reading…