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Anne M. Eberhardt

Mexikoma Off Derby Trail, Aimed at Belmont

Team Valor International colt to use Peter Pan as prep for Belmont Stakes.

Team Valor International announced March 20 that 3-year-old colt Mexikoma is no longer being aimed at the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and is now pointed toward the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

In a release, Team Valor said the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park would serve as Mexikoma's prep for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

The winner of one of four starts, with earnings of $28,100, the Birdstone  colt began his career by winning one of two starts for owner-trainer Michael Dilger. Acquired by Team Valor, the colt finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) in his first start for trainer Rick Mettee.

Following a third in allowance company at Gulfstream Park in his 2014 debut Feb. 22, Mexikoma developed a lung infection and missed 10 days of training, according to Team Valor. Although he had recovered from that illness and resumed a normal schedule, the decision to skip the Derby came after Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin inspected the colt the morning of March 20.

"Mexikoma is sound," Irwin said a statement. "Soundness is not the issue. The problem with making a Derby prep is that the infection he battled has left his constitution in a depleted state. Looking at him just now, I see that his coat has improved 100% in just 10 days and gleams with a healthy glow. But standing behind him, I see that the muscle tone he lost during his 15 days of stall confinement has not fully returned.

"In a nutshell, the colt's constitution suffered and has not fully recovered enough for our team of trainer Rick Mettee, exercise rider Shav Aizpuru, Megan Jones, and me to send the colt out for a breeze this weekend with any sort of confidence that the move would not set him back.

"The time between the Peter Pan and Belmont Stakes is one month, which is good spacing. What I like about the Peter Pan is it gives the colt that all-important race over the track."

Bred in Florida by Hickstead Farm, Mexikoma was purchased by MNDRS for $55,000 from the Wavertree consignment to last year's Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s April 2-year-olds in training sale.