Thursday, May 9, 2013
Fear the Kitten gets his chance
By Claire Novak
Fear the Kitten, shut out of the May 4 Kentucky Derby by eleventh-hour entrant Giant Finish, is one of 11 sophomores entered for the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes May 11 at Belmont Park.
The Peter Pan, to be run as race 9 with an approximate post time of 5:17 p.m. EDT, has attracted Bay Shore Stakes winner Declan's Warrior, Illinois Derby fourth-place finisher Abraham, and Fit To Fight Stakes winner Battier -- some with an eye on the June 8 Belmont Stakes, and others looking beyond.
Fear the Kitten was fifth in the April 13 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes for trainer Mike Maker and owner Frank Irvin. He also ran fifth in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, both of those events over Polytrack. The son of Kitten's Joy, 12-1 on the Peter Pan morning line, finished second in the Southwest Stakes and third in the Lecomte at the beginning of his 3-year-old year.
Also hoping to rebound from off-the-board finishes are My Name Is Michael, seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes, and Narvaez, seventh in the Illinois Derby April 20 for Stipa Racing Stable and trainer Augustin Bezara.
Declan's Warrior is stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time. Trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, the Majestic Warrior colt currently has three wins and a second from four starts, including a last-to-first maiden victory at Belmont Park last October.
"Obviously, the good thing is, we've always thought he was a terrific horse," said Zito, whose charge carries the colors of Lucky Shamrock Stable. "He's getting better, and this is a good time to be getting better. It's a good time to stretch him out."
Since his narrow victory in the Bay Shore Stakes, in which he swept five-wide to rally from seventh, Declan's Warrior turned in two works over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course. He most recently breezed a half-mile in :48.16 May 4.
"He's doing very well," said Zito, who can claim two Belmont Stakes victories but has never won the Peter Pan. "We're not really looking at this as a prep for the Belmont, but as a stakes race in its own right. He's a good horse, and down the road he's got a great future and a great career."
Jose Lezcano has the return call aboard Declan's Warrior, who drew post position 8 as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by newcomer Battier, who took the one-mile Fit to Fight overnight stakes April 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack, and WinStar Farm's Abraham, the 7-2 morning-line favorite.
Second by 3 ½ lengths to Mr Palmer in the Private Terms Stakes going the Peter Pan distance on March 9 at Laurel Park, Battier was purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbreds and sent to Pletcher shortly after his 1 ½-length victory in the Fit to Fight.
"I haven't really looked at this as a Belmont prep, but as a nice race on its own," said Pletcher, who won the Peter Pan in 2004 with Purge and in 2006 with Sunriver. "Abraham ran a very good race in the Illinois Derby; he had a pretty difficult trip through no one's fault. He's an improving horse. Battier, whom we've had for a couple of weeks, is coming off a good race. He breezed well [five furlongs in 1:01.19 May 5] and we'll see how he fits in."
John Velazquez will ride Abraham as he leaves post 5, while Joel Rosario will be in the irons aboard Battier, who drew post 3 at 8-1 on the morning line.
Making his first dirt start is Team Valor International's Infinite Magic, who began his career in Europe and was a nose winner of a turf allowance at Keeneland April 14. The More Than Ready colt had two wins and two seconds from five starts on synthetic surfaces in England, including the 1 ¼-mile Blue Square Bet Handicap in February at Lingfield.
"It'd be easy to keep him on the grass -- there's a grass overnight stakes on the same day as the Peter Pan -- but when people invest money and take shots with 3-year-olds they're hoping they can do something they haven't done yet," said trainer Bobby Ribaudo. "It'd be nice to see if he can handle the dirt, and then there'd be a lot of options for him.
"You don't want to compare him to Animal Kingdom, but Barry Irwin did the same thing with Animal Kingdom, and everyone thought he was nuts," Ribaudo added. "He ran on the synthetic, and the next thing you know he's in the Kentucky Derby on the dirt and he wins."
Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado will be aboard Infinite Magic, who has had two works over the Belmont Park main track. He will run on Lasix for the first time when he leaves from post position 11. He was listed at 12-1 on the morning line.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who saddled Charitable Man to victory in the 2009 Peter Pan, will send out Darley Stable's Incognito, who is using his stakes debut as a possible audition for the Belmont. The A.P. Indy colt, who is out of the Coaching Club American Oaks winner Octave, broke his maiden March 16 on Aqueduct's inner track. He next defeated older horses April 13 in an optional claimer, both at a mile.
"We know Incognito wants 1 ½ miles," said McLaughlin of the colt, who will run without Lasix. "It's a great tune up for an important race, and we think Incognito could go on to the Belmont if he runs well."
Mike Luzzi will ride the 5-1 third choice on the morning line from post position 10.
Also entered is Freedom Child, who races for West Point Thoroughbreds, Saint Elias Stable, and Spendthrift Farm. The Tom Albertrani trainee was left in the hands of the assistant starter last time out in the April 6 Wood Memorial when he was unprepared to race in the gate, and was declared a non-starter for wagering purposes. He raced rankly after his delayed start and gave way to finish 10th. Luis Saez rides the Malibu Moon maiden winner from the rail.
Allowance winners Saint Vigeur and Go Get the Basil complete the field. By Smart Strike , Saint Vigeur races for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr. and trainer Chad Brown. Go Get the Basil, by Andromeda's Hero, is trained by Rick Violette Jr. for John Esposito and Anthony Logrippo.