Friday, May 12, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Peter Pan Stakes (G2)

Who Will Take Flight in Peter Pan Stakes?

By: Nick Costa, Trackside with Trackman

Congratulations to Reinier Macatangay for picking Always Dreaming on top in the KY Derby in last week's Handcapper's Corner consensus.  

With the Kentucky Derby in the rear-view mirror, and the Preakness Stakes one week away, some three-year-olds have their sights already set on the third leg of racing’s Triple Crown.

A purse of $200,000 will be on the line when a group of six horses take to Belmont Park's dirt track and race 1 1/8 miles in the 63rd running of the Peter Pan Stakes - a local, traditional prep for next month’s $1.5 million G1 Belmont Stakes.

The G3 event may not have drawn as deep a field as we’ve seen assembled in some past years, but it does feature at least a couple of talented three-year-olds in the Group 2-placed Master Plan and the lightly raced, but undefeated, Timeline. Mix in a couple of well-regarded recent maiden winners and a couple of horses looking to ‘right their own ship’, and we have ourselves a race folks.

Post time for this competitive Grade 3 stakes is 3:04 pm. Let’s have a look from the rail out.

PP – Horse/Jockey/Trainer

1 - Master Plan/Velazquez/Pletcher--Colt was on also-eligible list for Kentucky Derby, but didn't draw in, so he's been sent here. Was a close 3rd in the U.A.E. Derby behind Thunder Snow and Epicharis, the former was unfortunate in suffering an unexpected debacle last week in Louisville, and the latter, who earned a Kentucky Derby berth, but didn’t participate, is Belmont Stakes bound. Finished fourth in his debut last August and that was the only time out of the money from five starts. His two wins have come on the turf, but he’s had good results on dirt. Jockey-trainer tandem on fire with 6 wins from 7 races over the last two weeks, including the 143rd Kentucky Derby.

2 - Timeline/Castellano/Brown--The first of two from the barn of trainer Chad Brown. Made his racing debut back in March, so he has just two starts, winning both. Looks to remain unbeaten as he now makes his much awaited stakes debut. He steps way up in class following a dazzling 13-length score in NW 1x company over a sloppy Aqueduct surface last month. Speed figure earned in that race towers over the others.

3 - Meantime/J Ortiz/Lynch--Front-runner skipped over the Keeneland slop at this very distance to score by 7 ½-lengths in his third maiden try. Big jump here to G3 company. Will be showing the way and will need to be caught.

4 - Impressive Edge/Saez/Roman--This colt spent the winter/spring down at Gulfstream before shipping north. Registered a pair of 4th-place finishes in his only two in graded stakes appearances, including the G1 Florida Derby, behind Always Dreaming. However, sandwiched in between those two efforts was a sharp 8-length victory, albeit against NW1x allowance company. He also looked good when breaking his maiden by nearly 5-lengths in January. Recorded a quick 4-furlong work five days ago.

5 - Lookin At Blessing/Carmouche/Zito--It's been awhile since we've seen any 3-yo from the Zito barn compete in a meaningful Triple Crown prep race. Has the most experience in the field with 9 starts, but hasn’t seen the winner's circle since last September when breaking his maiden over this very track. Will need a major form reversal to halt the losing skid, which has seen this colt beaten by double digit lengths in four of his last six races. Maybe the recent quick four-furlong work is an impending sign of good things.

6 - Take Your Guns/Rosario/Brown--The second runner from trainer Chad Brown enters off a 2 1/2-length maiden score going 9 panels at Keeneland in his second start.

Analysis: While Master Plan appears to have a slight class edge, it’s the front-runner Meantime that looks to have a big edge in the early pace scenario. Since the start of the current meet, the Belmont track has been very hospitable to early speed, with that running style scoring at nearly 80% and over a 90% success rate last week. Those numbers are hard to ignore and certainly weigh heavily in favor of the  Brian Lynch colt who gets a rider switch to Jose Ortiz, a very shrewd and sharp gate rider that can get his mount away quickly once the gates spring open. If Ortiz can get the horse to relax early and conserve energy, the young colt may have ample reserves to hold off the any late ralliers.

Selections: I’ll bet Meantime to win and exacta box with Master Plan.

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