Mark Valeski

Mark Valeski

Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs

Mark Valeski Arrives at Belmont for Peter Pan

Louisiana Derby runner-up bypassed Kentucky Derby; Travers is the long-term goal.

Louisiana Derby (gr. II) runner-up Mark Valeski  arrived at Belmont Park from Kentucky May 6 in advance of his scheduled start in the upcoming $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II).

Trainer Larry Jones said the 3-year-old Proud Citizen colt would likely work May 7 with regular jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard in preparation for the 1 1/8-mile race. The Peter Pan is May 12.

Mark Valeski had qualified for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I) with enough graded earnings. But Jones and owner/breeder Brereton Jones withheld him from the race after he failed to dazzle in his final pre-Derby work.

“We’re OK, we’re happy with our decision,” said Larry Jones, who teamed with Brereton Jones and Napravnik to win the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 4 with Believe You Can. “We were going to have to try and be working out a trip like so many others were (in the Derby).”

While the long-range plan for Mark Valeski is the Travers (gr. I) Aug. 25 at Saratoga Race Course, the trainer did not rule out a start in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 9.

“If he runs like a crazy machine Saturday we’d consider it,” he said. “But our plan is to have him ready for the Travers and a campaign in the fall.”

Peter Pan candidate The Lumber Guy is scheduled to breeze May 7 for the first time since his 2 ¾-length victory in the Jerome Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack April 21. His connections will decide where Barry K. Schwartz’s homebred will make his next start.

“The Peter Pan is still on the radar, and the Preakness (gr. I) is still on the radar,” said trainer Mike Hushion. “After talking with Mr. Schwartz, I would say the Peter Pan a little more so than the Preakness. We’ll have to see how he works, and see who’s going where.”

The New York-bred Grand Slam colt has won three of his four career starts, his only loss coming with a fifth-place finish behind Gemologist  in the Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial (gr. I).