Eight talented sophomores who were unable to gain the points necessary to make the Kentucky Derby (GI) gate will race for the winner’s share of the $200,000 purse in Saturday’s Peter Pan Stakes (GII) at Belmont. The race has more recently been considered a prep for the Belmont Stakes in a month’s time, separating the best “new shooters” for the third and final leg of the Triple Crown from the ones who rightfully skipped the first two legs to begin with.
Unified, undefeated in two starts including the Bay Shore Stakes (GIII) last time out, definitely takes a step up in class, but also has all the goods to get it done. His last was at seven furlongs, but it was an exceptional three-length romp where he earned a 111 Equibase speed figure (the highest for a Bay Shore winner since 2010) and it was also in the mud, something that will only help his chances if the main track is off as is expected by post time. The Centennial Farms colorbearer has been expertly handled by trainer Jimmy Jerkens and will again have the services of Jose Ortiz. And though, so far, he’s led at every call in his two races it’s entirely possible he can be rated if he’s ever put under any early pressure.
Adventist looked like a promising one for the Triple Crown trail after breaking his maiden by 11 lengths in his first out back in December and while his three thirds in graded company since against some good competition have been strong, he hasn’t had another breakout performance to get him to the top tier in his division. One thing that has been consistent for the Leah Gyarmati-trained son of Any Given Saturday is that he finds trouble. He’s either wide, or he races greenly or he shies at random things on the track, all of which have undoubtedly contributed to his non-winning efforts. Top New York jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount, which should help and he’s been training very well at his home base of Belmont since finishing third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (GI) last time out. There looks to be legit speed for him to stalk and, if he maintains his focus, he could pick up his first career stakes score.
Decorated Soldier takes a step up to graded company after winning his last two, including the Northern Spur Stakes in his last. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Proud Citizen and the multiple Grade III-winning Colonial Affair mare Lakenheath is certainly bred for the distance and will be making his third start of the year, so he should be fit to go the nine furlongs. Having Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard can only help. He will need his best, but his mid-pack running style and tactical style will help in this field with a lot of expected speed.
Governor Malibu enters this race off a win and then a disqualification in the Federico Tesco five weeks ago at Laurel Park, which came after a nice victory in the restricted Gander Stakes at Aqueduct in February. He’s another bred to love the stretchout, being by Malibu Moon and is riding a three-race win streak into this race. His best should earn him a share.
Supah Czech, Lost Iron and Wild About Deb are facing winners for the first time, Singleton is still a maiden.
Post time for the Peter Pan will be at 5:45 p.m. ET.