Mark Valeski one of a dozen entered in Peter Pan
Mark Valeski one of a dozen entered in Peter Pan
A little more than a week removed from an historic victory in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks aboard Believe You Can, jockey Rosie Napravnik will guide potential favorite Mark Valeski in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan for three-year-olds at Belmont Park. The 1 1/8-mile test is often used as a springboard to the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, the third jewel in the Triple Crown, which is scheduled for June 9.
A rare sweep of the Kentucky Oaks and Grade 1 Kentucky Derby was not in the cards for owner Brereton Jones, trainer Larry Jones and Napravnik, as Mark Valeski was withdrawn from Derby consideration early last week. Instead, the runner-up in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and Grade 2 Risen Star was re-routed to Belmont, where he posted a bullet five-furlong in :59 3/5 on Monday.
So far, the form of the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star have not stood up to close scrutiny. El Padrino, who outnosed Mark Valeski in the Risen Star after a stirring stretch duel, went unplaced in both the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, while Louisiana Derby upsetter Hero of Order subsequently trailed in the Grade 1 Blue Grass.
Mark Valeski could get a solid pace to chase in the Peter Pan. The Lumber Guy, fresh off an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Jerome, will again try stretching his speed over nine furlongs. He failed to do so in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, where he finished fifth, but that was around two turns. The one-turn 1 1/8 miles at Belmont plays to the gray colt's strengths as he is undefeated in three starts around one turn.
Also likely to show early foot is Master Rick, a perfect two-for-two for since joining the Steve Asmussen barn earlier this year. Winless in four starts under Bret Calhoun, Master Rick broke his maiden by more than five lengths in his debut for Asmussen and then scored a swift victory in the April 14 Northern Spur at Oaklawn Park over one mile.
Two colts with eyes on next week's Grade 1 Preakness at Pimlico were entered in the Peter Pan, but could scratch. The Wood Memorial third, Teeth of the Dog, would likely have little trouble making the Preakness field, but Zetterholm, a Rick Dutrow-trained New York-bred stakes winner, is presently on the outside looking in as far as Preakness eligibility. Dutrow told Maryland Jockey Club officials Wednesday he would scratch Zetterholm from the Peter Pan if he could be assured a spot in the Preakness.
Making his dirt debut in the Peter Pan is Summer Front, who went undefeated in three grass appearances as a juvenile including the King Cugat at Aqueduct and the Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park. The War Front colt made his belated sophomore debut in the Grade 3 Lexington on Polytrack April 21, finishing second as the 2-1 favorite.
Darley's late-blooming Le Bernardin beat older horses in an Aqueduct allowance over one mile April 7 and looks like a potential good one for Kiaran McLaughlin. Another with room for improvement is Street Life, winner of the March 17 Broad Brush at the Big A prior to a sixth in the Wood Memorial. The deep closer will be outfitted with blinkers for the first time Saturday.
Completing the Peter Pan lineup are Good Morning Diva and Big Screen, one-two in the off-the-turf Calder Derby April 14; the Grade 1-placed Right to Vote, winner of a Gulfstream allowance in modest time last out; and Grade 3 Illinois Derby third-placer Hakama.
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