Freedom Child assumed command shortly after the start and splashed clear to a rousing “mud-nfiicant” 13 ¼-length victory in Saturday's 59th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan at Belmont Park, (according to announcer Tom Durkin). The win earned him a shot at the June 8 Belmont Stakes.
The 3-year-old Malibu Moon ridgling, who was declared a non-starter in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 6 after being compromised at the break, got off a beat slow but quickly collected himself to lead his eight rivals through fractions of 23.51, 46.67 and 1:10.98 over the sloppy, sealed track. Edging away on the turn, Freedom Child straightened for home with an eight-length advantage and easily drew off under jockey Luis Saez and hit the wire in 1:49.09 for 1 1/8 miles.
“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,” said Tom Albertrani, who trains Freedom Child for West Point Thoroughbreds, St. Elias Stable and Spendthrift Farm. “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.”
Sent off at 7-2, Freedom Child returned $9.20 for a $2 win wager. With the winner's purse of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $167,072 and extended his record to 2-1-1 from six starts.
“I think we're going to the Belmont Stakes [Grade 1, 1 ½ miles, $1 million] in about four weeks,” said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “I hope [Kentucky Derby winner] Orb runs well in the Preakness and the whole world is watching on [June 8] for the Belmont Stakes, and I hope we upset the apple cart.”
Saint Vigeur, who defeated Freedom Child in a maiden race on February 9 at Gulfstream Park, finished second, with Go Get the Basil 2 ¼ lengths back in third. Abraham, the 5-2 favorite, was fourth, followed by Incognito, Fear the Kitten, My Name is Michael, Narvaez, and Infinite Magic.
Battier and Declan's Warrior were scratched.
See the full chart here.
Peter Pan (G2) Quotes
Tom Albertrani, winning trainer of Freedom Child (No. 1): “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 aboard Freedom Child (No. 1): “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 [at Belmont]. I'm so happy.”
Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, part owner of Freedom Child (No. 1): “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 racetrack. 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 on [June 8] for the Belmont Stakes, and I hope we have the chance to upset the apple cart.”
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