This Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes probables according to the NYRA press office: Ax Man (Bob Baffert); Blended Citizen (Doug O'Neill, supplemental); Core Beliefs (Peter Eurton); Diamond King (John Servis); Gotta Go (Ian Wilkes); High North (Brad Cox); Zing Zang (Steve Asmussen). Possible: Just Whistle (Michael Matz); Pony Up (Pletcher)
Gotta Go was confirmed on Sunday by trainer Ian Wilkes. He's coming off back-to-back disappointing efforts, finishing 11th in the Toyota Blue Grass after running sixth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.
Though contested at the Blue Grass distance of 1 1/8 mile, the Peter Pan will be a return to a one-turn track for the Shanghai Bobby colt. Wilkes said Gotta Go has been training well at Churchill Downs since mid-April and has traditionally been comfortable shipping.
"He's doing well, and the plan at the moment is to go to New York," Wilkes said. "He looks like he's improving. If he wasn't, we wouldn't come. I'm going to put blinkers on him and go back to one turn. I'm happy with the way he's going."
Gotta Go won his stakes debut in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs on Oct, 29 before ending his juvenile campaign with a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club. He started his 3-year-old year with a game runner-up effort in the seven-furlong Swale before faltering in his last two races around two turns.
"His last couple of races have been subpar, and it might be due to the fact it was two turns; that's what I'm going to find out," said Wilkes. "I'll put some blinkers on him and make him a little more focused."
Wilkes said regular jockey Chris Landeros will make the trip to Belmont for the return call.
Northern Spur Stakes winner High North will depart Churchill Downs on Wednesday for Belmont Park ahead of the Peter Pan. The bay colt by Midnight Lute worked five furlongs in 1:00 at Churchill Downs Saturday, hours before the Kentucky Derby in preparation for next week's start for trainer Brad Cox.
"He's doing real well. Real good," Cox said. "He looked real fantastic doing it, and he's looked real good since, so we're going to fly up there and run."
After falling short in three grade II starts, the April 14 Northern Spur on the Arkansas Derby undercard was a successful attempt at class relief which helped earn the second career victory for High North since he broke his maiden at Keeneland in his third career start. That effort came after a runner-up finish to graded stakes winner Avery Island at Belmont, his first try at a route.
Following his win, a rough trip in the Kentucky Jockey Club landed him a fourth-place finish before two off the board finishes in the Risen Star and Rebel Stakes. A change to blinkers and different tactics helped the colt capture his first stakes victory.
"I think the blinkers helped, and I think because he was a little closer to the pace than his previous two races, I think it worked out well for him," Cox said.
Florent Geroux, who was aboard for the first time in the Northern Spur, will ride on Saturday.
He's mentioned as probable for the Peter Pan by the NYRA press office and probable for the Preakness by the Maryland Jockey Club press office.
Edited NYRA release with additional content by Dick Downey