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2013 Peter Pan Stakes Review

In Need of Some Magic in 2013 Peter Pan

Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park might be the stuff that fairy tales are made of, but in light of next weekend’s Preakness, the entries to the Peter Pan look more and more like the Lost Boys of Neverland. Set at 1 1/8 mile, the Peter Pan is usually considered a prep race for the Belmont, but this year’s entries seem to pose very little threat to the likes of Orb and company.

Peter Pan Stakes ForecastOne thing to note about this race is that the conditions could very well be a replay of what we saw in the Kentucky Derby. The weather for Belmont Park is shaping up to be a muddy one with a 70% chance of rain and thunder storms. Even though it might look like the Derby did, the excitement surrounding this race is a low, dull ache and pales in comparison to the anticipation and excitement surrounding the Preakness. What this race needs is a horse to surprise us all, but does such a contender exist within this field?

Contenders for the Peter Pan Stakes

Declans WarriorThe 7/2 morning line favorite is Abraham who ran 4th in the Illinois Derby and 3rd in the Sunland Derby. Although I’m not that impressed with his Illinois Derby finish, I think his Sunland time was impressive in comparison to his present company and he should definitely be considered. He’ll also have John Velazquez aboard which I feel is a plus in this horse’s favor since Velazquez has the most experience with Abraham.

Declan’s Warrior definitely deserves some attention at a 4/1 morning line and rightfully so. Although he hasn’t been the 1 1/8 mile before, he has shown signs of being capable of this distance having gained some nice ground in his last two races at both the 7 and 7 ½ furlong marks. Here is what trainer Nick Zito had to say about Declan’s War-

“Obviously, the good thing is, we’ve always thought he was a terrific horse. He’s getting better, and this is a good time to be getting better. It’s a good time to stretch him out.”

Zito went on to explain that he was not looking at the Peter Pan as a prep race for the Belmont, but as a nice graded stakes all its own for this horse. I look for Declan’s Warrior to lay back and then come on strong by the final stretch. He is not my top pick, but I definitely see the potential in this thoroughbred.

BattierAnother horse that deserves some attention is Battier.  This Todd Pletcher trained horse has shown some really good outings since breaking his maiden in November. Although he hasn’t raced in the absolute best in company, he has never ran worse than second and is showing some speed and stamina that shouldn’t be ignored.

But my top pick is going to be Freedom Child. I can hear the groans now, but hear me out. This horse is going to be strongly overlooked by the public because on paper he looked horrible in the Wood Memorial, as he should have. Take a look at this-

 

Will Freedom Child Truly “Fly” in the Peter Pan?

As you can see here, he was caught up in a tangle from the starter’s hands and lost any chance of performing well in this race. As a matter of fact, he was declared a non-starter, so in all fairness I tossed this horse’s performance in the Wood right out the window. If you look closer at his times he set in his maiden race at Gulf Stream, he is in the right company with this field for the Peter Pan. Freedom Child is the one thing the Peter Pan stakes needs to make this race a thrilling one and at 12/1 morning line odds, he’ll fetch a healthy price.

I only have 2 concerns with this horse. For starters, he’ll need to get a clean break from the gate and avoid the fiasco he faced from the Wood Memorial. Secondly, he’ll need to have the stamina to take and hold the lead as I believe Saint Vigeur will fight him for it from the start. If he can avoid these 2 obstacles, I strongly feel that we’ll see Freedom Child fly away in the Peter Pan this Saturday and make all of us “believe”.

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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