Photo courtesy of Chelsea Durand/NYRA
By Claire Novak, @BH_CNovak
Freedom Child has enjoyed an eventful career for a sophomore runner who only had one win, but everything finally went right for the Malibu Moon ridgling May 11 at Belmont Park. Romping in the slop by 13 1/4 lengths to take the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes, the chestnut runner punched his ticket to the Belmont Stakes to be run June 8.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, St. Elias Stable, and Spendthrift Farm, Freedom Child rebounded off a 10th-place finish in the April 6 Wood Memorial, in which he was left in the hands of the assistant starter and ran for purse money only.
"We thought we were set to run well in the Wood; we just had a little bit of bad luck," said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds. "The next day we put a circle around the Peter Pan. I think we're going to the Belmont Stakes in about four weeks (now). I hope Orb runs well in the Preakness and the whole world is watching for the Belmont, and I hope we upset the apple cart."
Two starts prior, Freedom Child tangled with eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands winner Orb, passed by that one after setting the pace. He finished second by two lengths in the one-mile maiden special weight Nov. 24 at Aqueduct, then eventually went on to break his maiden by 5 1/4 going 1 1/8 miles wire-to-wire at Gulfstream Park March 10.
There was no Orb and no gate mishap in the Peter Pan, so Freedom Child sailed away to victory in a final time of 1:49.09 for nine furlongs. It was his first graded stakes score for trainer Tom Albertrani and first triumph off the maiden win.
"With the pedigree, all the experts were talking about how the Malibu Moons would relish the off going, so we weren't that concerned," Finley said. "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."
Away slowly under jockey Luis Saez, Freedom Child nevertheless quickly moved into stride and raced up under very mild urging to claim the lead exiting the chute. He ticked off fractions of :23.51 and :46.67 while never really challenged, opening a two-length lead up the backside and increasing that margin to four lengths for three-quarters in 1:10.98.
"He was a little slow coming out of there," Saez said. "I just put him in the race and he responded perfect. In the chute he wanted to run, so I let him run."
"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," Albertrani said. "Once I saw him on the lead like that I was pretty confident at the half-mile pole by the way he was traveling."
My Name Is Michael followed along in the early going tracked by Narvaez, but both faded when Freedom Child was hand-ridden off the turn and extended his advantage through the stretch.
The eventual winner ran a mile in 1:35.95 before finishing up while drifting out into the center of the track, with Saint Vigeur closest after a long drive from fifth and Go Get the Basil following from five wide in upper stretch to end 2 1/4 lengths back in third.
"It worked out well," Albertrani remarked. "I was very pleased to see him win like that. I didn't think he would actually draw away by that many lengths."
Freedom Child returned $9.20, $5.80, and $5.10 while Saint Vigeur paid $6.90 and $5.40. Go Get the Basil brought $8.60 at 16-1 in third; 5-2 favorite Abraham finished fourth. Completing the order of finish were Incognito, Fear the Kitten, My Name is Michael, Narvaez, and Infinite Magic. Battier and Declan's Warrior scratched.
Bred in Kentucky out of the Deputy Minister mare Bandstand, Freedom Child was a $350,000 purchase at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton New York select yearling sale when consigned by Warrendale Sales, agent. The Peter Pan victory improved his record to 2-1-1 from six starts, with earnings of $167,072.
For an Equibase chart, click here.
FREEDOM CHILD ROLLS IN PETER PAN
Photo courtesy of Joe Labozzetta/NYRA