The Peter Pan S. (G2) has become known as a prep for the third jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont S. (G1), and this year’s edition features eight runners hoping to parlay victory on Saturday into a classic berth.
The top prospect in the nine-furlong Peter Pan is Adventist, who broke his maiden by 11 lengths in his debut over Aqueduct’s inner dirt on December 19 before running third in his three races since. That trio of events is comprised of Aqueduct’s preps leading up to the Kentucky Derby (G1) – the Withers (G3), Gotham (G3) and Wood Memorial (G1).
In each case Adventist rallied for his spot on the wire under Kendrick Carmouche, but trainer Leah Gyarmati has tabbed Irad Ortiz Jr., aboard for the colt’s debut, for piloting duties in the Peter Pan.
While Adventist has experience running at 1 1/8 miles, Unified will be stretching out for the first time while seeking to keep his record perfect. The Jimmy Jerkens pupil earned a 100 BRIS Speed rating for taking his six-furlong bow by three lengths at Gulfstream Park on February 21, then saw that figure increase to 107 for his romping win in the Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct going seven furlongs over a muddy, sealed surface.
Unified had Jose Ortiz in the irons for his Bay Shore victory and the pair unite once again in the Peter Pan.
Only two other runners in the race have stakes experience, with the remaining four either maidens or maiden winners.
Governor Malibu posted a nose decision in the Federico Tesio at Laurel Park on April 9 but was disqualified to second and lost an automatic berth to the Preakness S. (G1) in the process. The New York-bred stakes winner is bypassing on the second jewel of the Triple Crown in favor of this spot, which could see him line up in the Belmont Stakes instead. Decorated Soldier broke his maiden by 7 1/2 lengths at Tampa Bay Downs before shipping to Oaklawn Park to add the Northern Spur S. to his resume last out.
Joel Rosario has the call on Governor Malibu for trainer Christophe Clement while John Velazquez rides Decorated Soldier for Todd Pletcher.
Supah Czech broke his maiden by a neck at Laurel Park on April 2 in his third try while Wild About Deb scored by six lengths in a nine-furlong, off-the-turf contest on April 6 at Santa Anita Park in his second try. Lost Iron has exclusively competed at 1 1/8 miles in his three starts thus far and got a first victory on April 1 at Aqueduct by two lengths. Singleton is still looking for a first win.
A couple of races before the Peter Pan, six distaffers will line up in the $250,000 Ruffian (G2) going a one-turn mile.
Cavorting will be trying that distance for the first time since suffering her worse losses to date in the 2014 Frizette (G1) and 2015 Davona Dale (G2). The Kiaran McLaughlin charge has prevailed in four stakes to date, including last year’s Test S. (G1) at seven furlongs and Prioress (G2) going three-quarters. The Bernardini filly also ran fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) last season and enters the Ruffian off a second in the April 17 Distaff H. (G3) to kick off her four-year-old campaign.
Include Betty is actually cutting back to a mile after spending much of her career running longer. The Tom Proctor pupil boasts a win over the track as well, taking last June’s 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose (G1), and opened her four-year-old season on March 5 with a third-placing in the Heavenly Prize Invitational S.
Carrumba is 4-3-0 from seven career starts, including the Top Flight Invitational H. (G3) last out on April 10 going nine furlongs at Aqueduct. That was the Shug McGaughey trainee’s second stakes try after she closed out 2015 with a head second in the Comely (G3) at the Big A. However, the gray daughter of Bernardini twice romped going a mile at Belmont Park, including over a muddy, sealed track, against allowance/optional claiming rivals.
Both Spelling Again and Calamity Kate are coming off losses but previously showed up in the graded winner’s circle. Spelling Again captured the Chilukki (G2) going a mile at Churchill Downs last November while Calamity Kate preceded a second in the Cotillion (G1) with a score in the Delaware Oaks (G3) last summer.
Welcome Aboard is the only runner in the Ruffian without graded credit on her resume. The Rock Hard Ten six-year-old also has been well-beaten in her past four races and might find these too good.
Adventist photo courtesy of NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography
Cavorting photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Mooshian/Adam Coglianese Photography