Friday, May 13, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Peter Pan Stakes (G2)

Eight Colts Ready to Grow Up in Peter Pan Stakes (G2)

By: Laurie Ross

Used by permission of Daily Racing Funnies

The Peter Pan Stakes (G2) is considered a prep race for the Belmont Stakes (G1).  The 1 1/8mile event around the Belmont Park oval has sent many hopeful contestants into the last leg of the Triple Crown, but few have completed the Peter Pan/Belmont Stakes double.

The best placing in the last fourteen years was in 2014 when Tonalist and Commissioner finished one-two in both races.  Tonalist’s third tail sire (great-grandpa on dad’s side) A.P. Indy was the last to pull off the double back in 1992.  Peter Pan victors Sunriver and Sunday Break finished third in their respective Belmont Stakes.

This year’s Peter Pan attracted eight promising colts. Half of the field are exiting maiden victories, one is a G3 winner, two are listed winners and one is graded stakes placed.  As The Turk mentioned in his excellent analysis of the Ruffian Stakes, rain is in the forecast for Friday. Saturday should be sunny, with rain showers occurring an hour or so after the race, so this race will be handicapped for a dry, fast track.

The Favorites
UNIFIED (Candy Ride (ARG) - Union City, by Dixie Union) wired the field in both starts by a combined six lengths, including the G3 Bayshore field. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee will attempt two turns for the first time in the Peter Pan.  Unified has a strong middle-distance pedigree filled with blacktype and should have no problem with the extra distance.

ADVENTIST (Any Given Saturday - Sharp Minister, by Deputy Minister) is naturally talented, yet still immature. After winning his debut, the colt has placed third in a trio of starts. He added blinkers for his last start in the Wood Memorial.  The colt was farther off of the pace than usual in the Grade 1 race, and railed to finish third, 2 ½ lengths behind the battling Outwork and Trojan Nation.  Conditioned by Leah Gyarmati, Aventist has the pedigree to handle classic distances. He has plenty of natural talent and if he could settle down, the colt could be a serious racehorse.

Ready to Fly
DECORATED SOLDIER (Proud Citizen - Lakenheath, by Colonial Affair) galloped to a 7 ½ length maiden breaking victory this winter at Tampa. He followed up with a desperate, surging nose victory in the one-mile Northern Spur Stakes. The Todd Pletcher trainee should love the extra distance. His sire was second in the 1992 Kentucky Derby. His dam Lakenheath is a G3 winner at 1 1/8 miles and Decorated Soldier’s damsire was second in the 1993 edition of the Peter Pan before capturing the Belmont Stakes.  Pletcher and Johnny V. teamed to capture the Peter Pan last year with Madefromlucky.

GOVERNOR MALIBU (Malibu Moon - Akilina, by Langfuhr) has hit the board in all five starts. His first foray out of state-bred company resulted in a nose victory in the 1 1/8 mile Federico Tesio Stakes, but the colt was DQ’ed to second for interference.  Christophe Clement’s charge has a classy pedigree and owns the highest late pace speed figure in the field.

The Lost Boys
WILD ABOUT DEB (Eskendereya - Smarty Deb, by Smart Strike) won his first start of the year over a rare sloppy Santa Anita track. He captured a 1 1/8 mile maiden event by six lengths in a sharp 1:49. Seven races later, Exaggerator won the Santa Anita Derby by 6 ¼ lengths in 1:49.66.  Wild About Deb’s final 1/8 mile was almost a second faster, although his earlier fractions weren’t as fast. The D’Amato trainee ships in from California and takes on winners for the first time.

LOST IRON (Flatter - Vanquished, by Empire Maker) is the only colt in the race with three starts at 1 1/8 miles under his girth. After chasing the speed in a pair of maiden attempts at Gulfsream this winter, the Bill Mott trainee earned his first victory at Aquduct by two lengths. Lost Iron is a half brother to the multiple graded stakes turfer Takeover Target. Their dam is a half sister to the two-time NY Bred Champ Critical Eye.  Lost Iron has the class to compete here, but his speed figures need to improve.

SUPAH CZECH (Uncle Mo - Supah Jackie, by Mecke) held on to win his one mile maiden race by a bare neck last time out.  Nice colt, very nice pedigree filled with Florida class, but 1 1/8 miles is 1/8 miles too far.  His dam is a full sister to the multiple stakes veteran Supah Blitz. That one won two of four starts at 1 1/8 miles, but against soft fields.

SINGLETON (Malibu Moon - Miss Audrey, by Grand Slam) is still trying to get the hang of this racing thing. He’s lost ground in the stretch of every start.  There’s always one in the field that obviously doesn’t belong.  You found him.

UNIFIED is the favorite, but there are some chinks in his armor.  Yes, he’s fast. He’s also had an un-pressured lead in both sprint starts. Maybe he doesn’t need the lead and was simply better than what he’s faced before.  There are better win options though.

#7 UNIFIED (4-5)

Horse racing has two distinct sides. Handicapping – knowing how to pick the winners, and money management – knowing which races to play and which to skip.  Just because you successfully pick the winner doesn’t mean you should bet.  This race is a good example.

I’m not wild about this field. Just about anyone can hit the board and in a small field, odds are likely to be low and more money stands to be lost than made.

Four of the eight have a legitimate shot of winning and two others can easily hit the board.  In a race like this, I prefer to save ThoroFan’s hypothetical $100.  If any of the top four go off at 5-1 or greater odds, they could be worth a win/place bet. Otherwise, save your money for a more lucrative opportunity.

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