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The Peter Pan Stakes is slated as Race 9 on Belmont Park's 11-race program on Saturday, May 8. First post is 1:00 p.m. EST.
The nine-furlong Peter Pan for sophomores is the traditional local prep for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes slated for Saturday, June 5 at 1 1/2-miles on Big Sandy.
Saturday's card features five graded stakes, led by the Grade 1, $700,000 Man o' War Stakes at 1 3/8-miles on the turf for 4-year-olds and upward and is bolstered by the Grade 3, $150,000 Runhappy Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for older horses; the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16-miles on turf; and the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap at 6 1/2-furlongs on the main track for filly and mare sprinters 4-years-old and up.
Race 9 at Belmont Park on Saturday, May 8 - Post 5:12 PM
|2||Nova Rags||5-2||Junior Alvarado
|3||Promise Keeper||7-2||Luis Saez
|4||Wolfie's Dynaghost||9-2||Jose Ortiz
|5||I Am the Law||30-1||Kendrick Carmouche
|John Terranova II|
|6||Risk Taking||7-5||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Overtook graduated at third asking with blinkers off traveling a one-turn mile on December 20 at Aqueduct.
Last out, Overtook, a $1 million purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, rallied from last-of-9 to complete the exacta behind Peter Pan-rival Risk Taking in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers on February 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Pletcher said a moderate pace in the Withers may have hampered Overtook's chances.
"He made a sustained run. He's a grinder. He'd benefit from some pace. The further the better," said Pletcher.
Pletcher said he initially hoped to point Overtook to the nine-furlong Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3 at Aqueduct, but changed plans after watching the colt train at Palm Beach Downs in Florida.
"We took him down there [to Florida] after the Withers with the idea that we might come back for the Wood," said Pletcher, who has captured the Peter Pan with Purge , Sunriver , and Madefromlucky . "It took him a little while to find his best, so we decided to wait for the Peter Pan. It seems like the last two or three weeks, he's really come around."
Overtook posted a bullet half-mile breeze in 48.32 seconds on April 30 at Palm Beach Downs and Pletcher said he is hoping Overtook will prove worthy of a run at the final leg of the Triple Crown.
"Historically, the Peter Pan has been a good stepping stone to the Belmont," said Pletcher. "He has a pedigree that suggests he wants to go that far and now it's time to see if he's good enough."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, fresh off a Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby double with the Pletcher-trained Malathaat and the Bob Baffert-conditioned Medina Spirit, respectively, will guide Overtook from the inside post. Velazquez captured the Peter Pan for Pletcher in 2004 with Purge and for conditioner Robert Barbara in 1996 aboard Jaimes First Punch.
Promise Keeper (Woodford Thoroughbreds, WinStar Farm and Rock Ridge Racing) purchased for $160,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, earned a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure last out with a 5 1/2-length score in a nine-furlong optional-claiming event on April 8 at Keeneland.
The Constitution chestnut graduated at second asking in February when stretched out to one mile on a sloppy track at Gulfstream, but followed by finishing last-of-12 in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March.
Pletcher said the Keeneland win made up for the disappointing Tampa Bay Derby effort.
"It wasn't his day for sure," said Pletcher. "We just drew a line through it, regrouped at Keeneland and he ran very well that day. We've been pointing for this since then."
Pletcher said a prominent trip last out proved beneficial for Promise Keeper after being mired behind horses in the Tampa Bay Derby.
"He's one that wants to be involved," said Pletcher. "He didn't get away great [at Tampa.] He just never got into the race and probably didn't like the surface at Tampa. He trained well after that and I thought the allowance race at Keeneland was impressive."
Pletcher said he expects Promise Keeper to be versatile, capable of winning at a variety of distances.
"I don't think he needs two turns, but I do think he appreciates the mile and an eighth," said Pletcher.
Luis Saez retains the mount on Promise Keeper from post 3.
Risk Taking, trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown for Klaravich Stables, captured the nine-furlong Grade 3 Withers on February 6 at the Big A.
The Medaglia d'Oro bay, a $240,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, followed with a flat seventh last out in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Wood Memorial.
Brown said he hopes Risk Taking, who breezed five-eighths in 1:00.34 on May 1 over Big Sandy, can regroup from a less than favorable trip in the Wood Memorial.
"He did take a lot of dirt and was a little wide. We quite liked his chances in that race," said Brown, who has captured the Peter Pan with Timeline  and Country Grammer . "He's come back and worked really well. His last work was particularly good for him. It was the best we've seen from him. We're giving it another shot in here to see if he can get back on track."
Irad Ortiz, Jr. retains the mount from the outermost post 6.
Woodslane Farm homebred Wolfie's Dynaghost earned an 84 Beyer in his impressive debut sprinting seven furlongs over a Big A main track rated good on November 14 when 1 1/2-lengths the better of eventual graded-stakes winner Weyburn.
Tom Albertrani has trained Wolfie's Dynaghost into his second career start at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, where the colt posted a bullet five-eighths breeze in 1:01.20 on April 25.
"He's doing great. He had a bit of time off but he's been training well lately and we're looking forward to getting him back on the track," Albertrani said. "He showed so much promise the first time he ran. His works prior to that, he showed a lot, so it was great watching him win first-time out."
By Ghostzapper and out of the Dynaformer mare Dynaire, Wolfie's Dynaghost is a half-brother to the Albertrani-trained Sadler's Joy, a Grade 1 winner and $2.6 million earner.
Jose Ortiz, who won the 2016 Peter Pan aboard Unified, has the call from post 4.
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Michael Shanley's Nova Rags was bumped at the start of the Grade 1 Florida Derby last out before making the lead en route to a fourth-place finish on March 27 traveling nine furlongs around two turns at Gulfstream.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said the rugged start didn't affect the outcome.
"It's horse racing. You don't like to get bumped but it happens," said Mott. "He got away good and was on the lead."
The Union Rags chestnut, a Kentucky homebred, graduated at first asking in October sprinting six furlongs at Belmont and completed an abbreviated juvenile campaign with a fourth in the Grade 3 Nashua in November at Aqueduct.
Nova Rags made a winning sophomore debut in the seven-furlong Pasco in January at Tampa Bay Downs ahead of a second at the same track in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Sam F. Davis won by fellow Mott trainee Candy Man Rocket.
Mott said a return to one-turn racing at Belmont may benefit Nova Rags, who will not be using the Peter Pan as a springboard to the Belmont Stakes.
"He ran well at one turn so I guess the mile and an eighth is the question," said Mott. "I don't think we'd go to the Belmont with him."
Nova Rags will exit post 2 under Junior Alvarado.
Rounding out the field is Curragh Stables' I Am the Law, a maiden son of Mshawish purchased for $125,000 at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.
Trained by John Terranova, I Am the Law has hit the board in both career starts, including a closing second last out in a one-turn mile maiden special weight contested on a sloppy Big A main track on March 28 that garnered a 72 Beyer.
Kenrick Carmouche returns to the irons from post 5.