Larry Jones decided Mark Valeski was not ready for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) last week and instead opted to run the 3-year-old colt in the $200,000 Peter Pan (gr. II) (VIDEO) May 12 at Belmont Park. It sure looked like the trainer made the right decision when the son of Proud Citizen took over at mid-stretch and scored by 1 1/4 lengths under the red-hot Rosie Napravnik.
Following a bullet work at Belmont May 7, Jones had Mark Valeski ready to go in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan, and after a stalking trip while wide into the lane the favorite overtook 47-1 longshot pacesetter Right to Vote en route to his first stakes victory. The final time in the one-turn race on a fast track was 1:48.31.
Mark Valeski is a Kentucky homebred of Brereton Jones. The owner-breeder, trainer, and jockey all teamed up to win the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) last weekend with Believe You Can.
Mark Valeski entered the Pater Pan off two runner-up finishes at Fair Grounds in the Feb. 25 Risen Star (gr. II) and April 1 Louisiana Derby (gr. II). This was his third victory from six lifetime starts.
Right to Vote wasted no time getting to the lead under Alex Solis, breaking from the inside and speeding through fractions of :22.71, :45.35, and 1:09.52. The Lumber Guy , winner of the Jerome (gr. II) last out, pressed the pace into the stretch, while Le Bernardin, Big Screen, and Mark Valeski raced in the next group.
Despite setting brisk fractions, Right to Vote was still running strong when he came off the turn, but Mark Valeski ranged up four-wide and took over just beyond the eighth pole. He had to work to keep Right to Vote at bay in the final furlong, but was able to prevail under steady urging from Napravnik.
With his win, Mark Valeski upped his career earnings to $430,952. The winner is out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Pocho’s Dream Girl.
The winner paid $4.70, $3.30, and $2.80 as the favorite. Right to Vote returned $24.60 and $14, and filled out a $136 exacta (5-1). The trifecta (5-1-12) was worth $1,207.