I’m writing this quickly before heading out to Belmont Park for what should be a beautiful Peter Pan Day. I always like the Peter Pan since it seems to pass the time between Derby and Preakness and gives a nice little preview of the Belmont Stakes. Let’s get to the races:
Race 3: The You and I Stakes at seven furlongs
Hardened Wildcat (#3) is going to win this race. Some may try to make the argument that Currency Swap was rushed along this winter to try and make the Triple Crown races and now that his connections are trying an easier spot, he’ll excel. The problem with that is that he has really been bad so far this year and I’m starting to wonder if that 98 Beyer he earned in his debut at Saratoga is a bit of a fluke. Yet even if he is still that good, Hardened Wildcat will win. He made a gallant run at Trinniberg last time in the Bay Shore when compromised by an extremely slow pace. There won’t be much pace on here either, but his closing kick should devastate this field. I’ll bet him, but I’m prepared for a very short price.
$15 Win 3
Race 5: NY-bred maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles on turf
Captain Goodenough (#13) is currently stuck on the also-eligible list for this race, but I’m really hoping he draws in because this is a good spot for him. Last time, in his turf debut, he had a horrendous trip, getting steadied badly at two points in the race. Going into the far turn, he was shuffled back three places when he had nowhere to go in behind the tiring leader. Once angled to the outside, he made a nice late run to chase the winner home. With any sort of decent trip, he’s probably better than these horses. He also gets a major jockey switch from Ruben Silvera to Rajiv Maragh. If he’s in, I’m betting:
$10 Win 13
Race 8: Claiming $15,000B at six furlongs
Haystack Needle (#5) and King Rock (#1) are both entered in here, but I’m focusing on the former. As a frontrunner, Haystack Needle has been badly compromised in his last two races, first by a suicidal pace that totally collapsed and then last time by a very tardy start. His last two races look so bad on paper that I think he’s going to go off at a decent price, although his morning line of 10-1 sounds a bit generous. Today he should face little pressure for the early lead, since there are plenty of stalkers but no other confirmed pacesetters. Furthermore, if he can get back to the 88 Beyer he earned when allowed to get loose on the lead three races ago, no one in here should be able to touch him. And my confidence is strengthened by the fact that Cornelio Velasquez takes over for the apprentice that rushed him up to lead after breaking slowly last time.
As for King Rock, he’d probably be the other horse I’d use in here, although I fear he may be over-bet due to the recent claim by David Jacobson. He’s obviously in career form and his last race would put him right there at the finish, however I still believe he’s better as a turf horse and will keep him on the list in hopes he gets on that surface soon. The bet:
$15 Win 5
$4 Exacta Box 1-5
Race 9: The Peter Pan Stakes (G2) at 1 1/8 miles
Zetterholm (#3) is the “Horse to Watch” in here, and I’ll pick him if he runs, but everything I’ve read indicates that Rick Dutrow, Jr. will wait for the Preankess Stakes next weekend with this NY-bred. So if he runs here, I’ll bet him since he should get a good pace setup and is improving. Otherwise, I’m looking for alternatives.
Fortunately, Zetterholm isn’t the only horse in this year’s Peter Pan with ties to our list. Le Bernardin (#4), former Horse to Watch and now a member of the Alumni List, is entered back here after his impressive allowance win last month at Aqueduct. He looks fast enough and should relish the extra distance. The only question with him would be whether he can sit a bit further off the pace than he has in his last two starts. The pace is likely to be pretty hot here with The Lumber Guy, Right to Vote, and Master Rick likely all trying for the lead. If Le Bernardin can sit behind them alongside Mark Valeski (#5) early, he should get first run on the leaders at the top of the stretch. Without Zetterholm in the race, the only closer that I’d be afraid of is Street Life, but he will surely leave himself with a lot to do late since he needs to make a run from absolutely last. The bet:
($10 Win 3)
$10 Win 4
$5 Exacta Box 4-5