Freedom Child Splashes to Dominant Peter Pan Win
By Dick Downey
Freedom Child got away from the gate a bit slowly, but that didn't last long as he led at each call to romp in the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes. In the process, the Belmont Stakes probably picked up at least one more entry.
Under Luis Saez, Freedom Child set splits on a rain-soaked track rated sloppy/sealed of :23.51, :46.67, 1:10.88 and 1:35.95 before passing the finish line in 1:49.09 in the one-turn, nine-furlong Peter Pan -- and winning by 13 1/4 lengths.
The Tom Albertrani trainee was briefly challenged by My Name Is Michael and Abraham in the early going but was untouchable by the time he ran the first four furlongs.
Saint Viguer gained fifth place a quarter-mile from home and moved up three spots from there to finish second. Abraham, third during much of the race, was nosed out for the show by longshot Go Get the Basil, who was beaten 15 1/2 lengths.
Fifth was Incognito, followed by Fear the Kitten, My Name Is Michael, Narvez and Infinite Magic. Battier and Declan's Warrior were trainer scratches.
Freedom Child, a 12-1 morning line, was hammered at the windows and left the gate at odds of 7-2. He returned $9.20, $5.80 and $5.10 to bettors. The race was worth $200,000; Freedom Child earned the winner's share of $120,000.
The Peter Pan is a traditional local prep for the Belmont Stakes four weeks hence. Given the condition of the track and the dominance of one colt that clearly like the off going, the race will be a difficult read as to how it might impact the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Last year, Freedom Child raced twice without winning. On March 10 at Gulfstream Park, he broke his maiden in his fourth start, going 1 1/8 mile for the first time. Next time out, Freedom Child found himself in the Grade I Wood Memorial but was declared a non-starter after he and an assistant starter tangled up when the gate opened.
Bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm LLC, Freedom Child is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, St. Elias Stable and Spendthrift. He's by Malibu Moon out of Bandstand, by Deputy Minister. He's a late foal, having arrived on May 18, 2010.
Tom Albertrani, winning trainer: “He was standing fine right until the time they were getting ready to break. He started getting his head up in the air and I think he got off a step slow. The plan was to be on the lead, and luckily he was able to quicken up leaving the gate and get to an easy lead. So, it worked out well. I was very pleased to see him win like that.
"I didn’t think he would actually draw away by that many lengths. Once I saw him on the lead like that, I was pretty confident at the half-mile pole by the way he was traveling. There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ about what could have happened in the Wood, but at least we have a nice horse. Hopefully, this might lead us to the Belmont.”
Luis Saez, winning jockey: “He was a little slow coming out of there. The last time he had a bad break. I just put him in the race and he responded perfect. In the chute he wanted to run, so I let him run. It was my first time winning a big race here. I’m so happy.”
Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, part owner: “We thought we were set to run well in the Wood; we just had a little bit of bad luck. The next day we put a circle around the Peter Pan.”
“With the pedigree, all the experts were talking about how the Malibu Moons would relish the off going, so we weren’t that concerned. They all have to run over the same race track. We thought we were coming in with a loaded gun. We knew there were some quality horses in there, but we thought if he had the chance to go down the backside on the lead and got his air, he’d be tough to beat.”
“I think we’re going to go to the Belmont Stakes in about four weeks. I hope Orb runs well in the Preakness and the whole world is watching...the Belmont Stakes, and I hope we have the chance to upset the apple cart.”