Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Joe Vann and Jerome (gr. II) winner Adios Charlie lead a field of 11 for the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II), which returns to Belmont Park May 14 after a one-year hiatus.
The 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan is the local springboard for the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The feature will go as race 9 on the 10-race program, with a probable post time of 5:16 p.m. EDT.
Todd Pletcher, a winner of two of the last six editions of the Peter Pan, will send out Zayat Stables’ Joe Vann, who rides a three-race win streak into the race. The Silver Deputy colt was winless in five starts to begin his career, but has been on a roll ever since breaking his maiden Feb. 17 at Laurel Park.
Joe Vann came back to win an optional claimer at Laurel in March and made a winning stakes debut when he romped by more than four lengths in the April 9 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course. All three of his wins came in wire-to-wire fashion.
“I think we’re going to get a true check of how much confidence he’s generated,” said Pletcher. “We were a little confused about some of his form. He had a disappointing race at Gulfstream (Jan. 8) and then ran three terrific races. This will give us an idea of where he fits in the big picture.”
Bred in Kentucky by Monticule and out of the Danzig mare Polish Flower, Joe Vann (5-1) will be ridden by Javier Castellano for the first time.
Pletcher won the Peter Pan in 2004 with Purge and 2006 with Sunriver.
Robert I. Sahn and Stanley Hough’s Adios Charlie was making only his third career start when he rallied to win the April 23 Jerome by 2 1/2 lengths at sloppy Aqueduct. The Indian Charlie colt broke his maiden by nearly seven lengths one month before in a sprint at Gulfstream Park. He was runner-up in his only start as a 2-year-old at Belmont.
Adios Charlie was a $400,000 OBS selected sale of 2-year-olds in training purchase. He was bred in Florida by Brylynn Farms and is out of the Northern Afleet mare Teak Totem. Rajiv Maragh keeps the mount for Hough, who also trains the bay colt.
“He’s been training super,” said Lazaro Cruz, Hough’s assistant. “He ran huge in the Jerome and it didn’t seem as if it took much out of him; he’s done beautifully since then. We’re hoping he runs as well on Saturday.”
Adios Charlie was pegged as the 3-1 morning-line favorite.
Also coming off a stakes victory and likely to be part of the pace is Charles Cella’s Uncle Brent. The Pioneering gelding took the one-mile Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 16, which was his second win in three starts this season for trainer Lynn Whiting. He will try a route of ground for the first time in the Peter Pan with new rider John Velazquez in the irons.
“He’s done everything in fine fashion,” said Whiting, who saddled Lil E. Tee to win the 1992 Kentucky Derby. “This is a good time slot and a good opportunity for him. We think he’s got a forward move in him.”
Though they didn’t win, Prime Cut and Newsdad both enter off of solid efforts in their last starts. Courtlandt Farms’ Prime Cut was second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Derby Kitten, in the April 23 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) on the Keeneland Polytrack. The Neil Howard trainee won an optional claimer and hit the board in two other starts while racing at Fair Grounds earlier this season. He had been under consideration for the Preakness but was instead pointed for this race.
“The Preakness has a big field with a lot of speed and the top horses from the Derby look tough coming right back and I don’t know if he’s ready for that,” said Howard. “If he runs in one of the (Triple Crown) races, we feel the Belmont would be the best for him.”
James Karp’s Newsdad returns to dirt after making three starts on turf and synthetics this season. The Arch colt broke his maiden on the Gulfstream turf going 1 1/8 miles in January, finished third in the Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) in March, and was fourth but beaten only a length in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) last out. Alan Garcia will ride for Bill Mott.
Also entering off of a graded stakes race is Pin Oak Stable’s homebred Alternation, who was fifth in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) after a poor start in his black-type debut. Alternation won three in a row before that.
$200,000 Peter Pan (gr. II, Race 9, 5:16 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Isn't He Perfect (KY), J Rodriguez, 116, D Shivmangal
2. Uncle Brent (KY), J R Velazquez, 120, L S Whiting
3. Beer Meister (KY), A O Solis, 116, M Ortiz Sr.
4. Prime Cut (KY), E S Prado, 116, N J Howard
5. Tap Attack (NY), E Castro, 116, S M Schwartz
6. Alternation (KY), R A Dominguez, 118, D K Von Hemel
7. Bold Deed (NY), C Hill, 116, M E Hushion
8. Adios Charlie (FL), R Maragh, 120, S M Hough
9. Newsdad (KY), A Garcia, 116, W I Mott
10. Joe Vann (KY), J Castellano, 120, T A Pletcher
11. Monzon (MD), J Lezcano, 118, I Correas IV