Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Belmont Park: Peter Pan may reveal whether Saint Vigeur gets shot at Belmont Stakes
ELMONT, N.Y. – While trainer Chad Brown ponders whether to run Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Normandy Invasion back in the Preakness next Saturday, he hopes to find out this Saturday whether or not he has a contender for the Belmont Stakes.
At Belmont Park, Brown sends out Saint Vigeur in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes, a wide-open race that could yield a starter or two for the $1 million Belmont on June 8.
Saint Vigeur, a son of Smart Strike, is 2 for 2 this year, both since Brown added blinkers to the colt’s equipment. In a maiden race at Gulfstream, Saint Vigeur went gate to wire when breaking from the rail, running fractions of 23.63 seconds for the quarter and 47.55 for the opening half-mile. The horses who finished second through fourth all came back to win their next starts, including Freedom Child, who is in this field.
In an April allowance race at Aqueduct, Saint Vigeur sat second off ridiculously slow factions – the time for the half-mile was 51.83 seconds – but still came running to win by a neck.
“He’s a versatile horse, he’s a very big horse who is just figuring stuff out now,” Brown said. “The addition of blinkers helped him. I do think he’s a horse on the improve. This will be a big class test here, but we’ll figure out more about him.”
Brown is confident that Saint Vigeur – whose dam Sweet Way is a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Life Is Sweet and Sweet Catomine – will be effective at long distances.
“He seems like a bit of a grinder. He’ll run as far as you ask him to,” Brown said. “We need to know at what class level he can do that. If he did well in the Peter Pan maybe he could turn into a Belmont horse.”
Javier Castellano will ride Saint Vigeur from post 7.
In a Nov. 24 maiden race last Nov. 24 at Aqueduct, Freedom Child finished second between Orb and Revolutionary – the first- and third-place finishers from last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
Coming off a maiden win at Gulfstream, Freedom Child was entered in the Wood Memorial, where he was declared a non-starter after being judged to be in the hands of the assistant starter leaving the gate.
“We definitely have to come back and try to get our confidence back after that race,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “Going into the race, we were pretty confident we’d get a share of the Wood and who knows after that where it would have taken us. We just regrouped, put it behind us. Hopefully, the horse will perform to the way we think he can.”
Breaking from the rail, Freedom Child is likely to show early speed under Luis Saez. He could play out as the primary speed, though Declan’s Warrior, the Bay Shore winner, is a sprinter stretching out and could be up close.
“Sooner or later, you got to try. If it doesn’t work, then you cut back to [seven furlongs] in the Woody Stephens,” Nick Zito, the trainer of Declan’s Warrior, said. “I’m hoping he can stretch out. I’m taking my time. I’ve always liked this horse. He’s getting better and better.”
Incognito overcame a rough trip to win a first-level allowance race here April 13. His jockey, Mike Luzzi, said Incognito, has “come a long way” since he first began riding him last December.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out the uncoupled entry of Abraham and Battier. Abraham had a rough trip when fourth in the Illinois Derby.
“He lost position in the beginning and kind of got shuffled around down the backside and bothered I thought in the stretch,” Pletcher said. “He had a pretty rough trip, thought he ran courageously considering and didn’t get beat all that far.”
Battier won 4 of 6 starts before being purchased privately by Eclipse Thoroughbred partners.
“We haven’t had him a long time, he seems like a horse with a strong constitution and he’s been running well,” Pletcher said. “We’ll see how he handles the stretch out to a mile and an eighth.”
Neither Battier nor the New York-bred Go Get the Basil is Triple Crown nominated.
Rounding out the field are My Name Is Michael, Fear the Kitten, Narvaez, and Infinite Magic.