Saturday's 1 1/8 mile Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park serves as the track's major prep race for the Belmont Stakes which will be run on June 6th. A short field of seven will go postward on a track that has seen steady rain for a week although the forecast for the weekend is looking better.
After a 2nd place in the Gothem and 5th in the Wood Memorial both behind I Want Revenge, the Shug McGaughey trained Imperial Council looks to have found a softer spot in the Peter Pan and looks like he could return to his winning ways. Edgar Prado keeps the mount.
This guy looked sensational last year breaking his maiden at Saratoga and then taking the Belmont Futurity in the fall over an off track before being sidelined with a knee injury. After the winter off, his connections decided to take a shot at getting into the Derby by running in the Blue Grass stakes but he was no factor in there. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has been very high on him and he could be dangerous in his second off a layoff.
He shipped to the US from Peru and immediately won a NW1 Allowance at Gulfstream under John Velasquez before a disaster in the Illinois Derby where he gave way badly. He has been working well since that race and trainer Todd Pletcher is keeping him at the same level. Johnny V gets back aboard so we will see if he is for real.
He ran 2nd as the favorite in the Grade II Hutcheson at Gulfstream and looked like a Derby contender. He then turned in a dull 7th place performance in the Tampa Bay Derby before winning a NW1 Allowance in his last at Keeneland under Garret Gomez. He is sporting a bullet work over the Belmont track last Sunday and Gomez will again be back on board for trainer Barclay Tagg.