Eight Lined Up for Peter Pan
The traditional local prep for the Belmont Stakes has attracted eight entries, one of them heavily favored.
The lone graded stakes winner in the field and the odds-on favorite in the morning line is the lightly raced Unified, who in his second start was an eye-catching victor in the 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 is listed at 4-5.
Expected to attract support as well is the Leah Gyarmati-trained Adventist. While winless this year, he has racked up third-place finishes in a trio of graded stakes, including the Wood Memorial on April 9. Adventist 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. The colt had 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 3 and was tabbed at 4-1 on the morning line.
Coming in from California is Wild About Deb, who broke his maiden at 1 1/8 mile last time out 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 trainer Phil D'Amato. "The timing was right from his maiden win, 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.
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.
Trainer Bill Mott will be represented by Lost Iron, a two-length maiden winner at the Peter Pan distance last month at Aqueduct. 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 will leave from post position 8 with Junior Alvarado aboard. He was listed at 15-1 on the morning line.
Rounding out the field are Supah Czech, a last-out maiden winner at Laurel; the maiden Singleton from trainer Nick Zito, and Northern Spur winner Decorated Soldier, making his New York and graded stakes debut for trainer Todd Pletcher.
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 II Ruffian for fillies and mares and the Grade III 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.
Edited NYRA release