ELMONT, N.Y. - Eight up-and-coming 3-year-olds, each with an eye on the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, will line up Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan, Belmont Park's traditional prep for the final leg of the Triple Crown on June 11.
The 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan is one of four graded stakes at Belmont on Saturday's 11-race card, which also features the first Grade 1 of the year, the $400,000 Man o' War at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf, along with the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian for fillies and mares and the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay for turf fillies and mares.
The four races comprise an All Graded Stakes Pick 4 that begins with the Ruffian in Race 7 (post time approximately 4:41 p.m. ET).
First race post time on Saturday is 1:30 p.m.
Trainer Bill Mott will be represented by Lost Iron, a two-length maiden winner at the Peter Pan distance last month at Aqueduct Racetrack. Six years ago, the Hall of Famer sent Drosselmeyer out to finish second in the Dwyer - which took the place of the Peter Pan on the calendar that year - in advance of his 13-1 upset in the Belmont. Mott hasn't hit the board in two subsequent starts in the Peter Pan, but is hoping Lost Iron will be the one to emulate the 2010 Belmont winner.
"He's doing well," Mott reported from Saratoga. "He's a horse that seems like he'd want a distance of ground. We'll see how he holds up in this type of company; either we'll move forward, or take a step back. We're hopeful he'll show us enough to give encouragement to look at the Belmont."
Lost Iron, who carries the colors of Harvey Clarke, will leave from post position 8 with Junior Alvarado aboard. He was listed at 15-1 on the morning line.
Christophe Clement, who won the 2014 Belmont with Peter Pan hero Tonalist, returns with the stakes-winning Governor Malibu, who has finished first, second or third in all six of his career starts. Most recently the New York-bred son of Malibu Moon, who won the Gander at Aqueduct Racetrack in February, put a nose in front at the wire in the Federico Tesio at Laurel Park, only to be disqualified to second for interference in the stretch.
Governor Malibu, 10-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by Joel Rosario. The pair will leave from post position 5.
The lone graded stakes winner in the field and the odds-on favorite in the Peter Pan is the lightly raced Unified, who in his second start was an eye-catching victor in the Grade 3, seven-furlong Bay Shore on April 9 at the Big A. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens for Centennial Farms, Unified will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post position 7. He was listed at 4-5 on the morning line.
Expected to attract support as well is the Leah Gyarmati-trained Adventist, who while winless this year has racked up third-place finishes in a trio of graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 9. The Treadway Stable color-bearer was excluded from the Kentucky Derby after sitting at No. 22 on the points list, but Gyarmati had the son of Any Given Saturday ready for any eventuality.
"We didn't do anything differently with him after the Wood whether he was going to the Derby or not," said Gyarmati of Adventist, who has three subsequent breezes at Belmont, most recently covering six furlongs in an easy 1:16.40 on Monday. "I'm very pleased with the way he's been training, and I think he will appreciate the big turns at Belmont. We're hopeful; we'll see how he runs Saturday."
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be in the irons aboard Adventist, who drew post position 3 and was tabbed at 4-1 on the morning line.
Coming in from California is Wild About Deb, who like Lost Iron broke his maiden at 1 1/8 miles last month, albeit at Santa Anita Park. Wild About Deb, a son of Eskendereya, arrived in New York Tuesday and trained over the Belmont main track Wednesday morning.
"We think a lot of this horse," said Phil D'Amato, who trains Wild About Deb for Marisa Lizza. "The timing was right from his maiden win [May 9], and his owners live in New York, so things just came together. If he runs well, there's a possibility we could look at the Belmont."
Trevor McCarthy will ride Wild About Deb, 8-1 on the morning line, from post position 6.
Rounding out the field are Supah Czech, a last-out maiden winner at Laurel; the maiden Singleton from Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, and Northern Spur winner Decorated Soldier, making his New York and graded stakes debut for trainer Todd Pletcher.
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