The Grade 3, $300,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park is historically a prep race for horses hoping to compete in the Belmont Stakes, which will be contested on June 8. This year's edition features four horses who competed on the Road to the Kentucky Derby at one point or another but who didn't earn the points necessary to run in the first leg of the Triple Crown. Global Campaign finished fifth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes in March and has been rested since then. Federal Case finished seventh in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes in February then cut back in distance to a sprint and finished second in the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes the next month. He then earned a third-place finish in the Robert Hilton Memorial Stakes in April. Sir Winston won the Display Stakes in December before fourth-, fifth-, and seventh-place efforts in Derby preps, most recently in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes. Final Jeopardy enters the Peter Pan following a sixth-of-11 finish in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes. The only horse who is starting in a stakes for the first time is Intrepid Heart, who won an allowance race last month in his second career start.
In this fairly short field, two horses appear to be a cut above the rest. Global Campaign is one of those. He won easily by nearly six lengths in his career debut in January, earning a 98 Equibase Speed Figure in the process, then improved to a 99 figure when stretching out to a route in his second start one month later. His third career start came in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, where he finished a respectable fifth of 11 while improving to a new career-best 103 figure, tied with Intrepid Heart for the best in the field. The Fountain of Youth turned out to be a "key race" from which two horses (Vekoma and Gladiator King) returned to win stakes races, the former in the Blue Grass Stakes, in which Sir Winston finished seventh. Additionally, Fountain of Youth third-place finisher Code of Honor came out of the race to finish third in both the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby before being placed second via the disqualification of Maximum Security. The mile and one-eighth distance of the Peter Pan should prove no issue for Global Campaign, as he is a half-brother to Bolt d'Oro, a major contender on the Derby trail in 2018. With improving to do in his fourth career start and with a series of strong workouts in Kentucky before shipping to New York, Global Campaign could be tough to beat in this race.
Intrepid Heart has won both starts of his career to date. He debuted in February at a mile and won by nearly eight lengths, earning a 95 figure, before improving to a 103 figure winning last month at Keeneland. Intrepid Heart is also bred to take to the longer trip of the Peter Pan and even longer mile and one-half distance of the Belmont Stakes, as his half-brother Commissioner won nearly $1 million including finishing second in the 2014 Peter Pan Stakes behind Tonalist before being defeated by the same horse the next month in the Belmont Stakes. As a son of Tapit, whose sons Tonalist, Creator, and Tapwrit have won three of the last five editions of the Belmont, I am pretty sure trainer Todd Pletcher is hoping for a big effort to add to the sire's strong results in four weeks. As such, a win by Intrepid Heart is a very strong possibility in this year's Peter Pan.
Federal Case has put forth about the same effort in his last four races, earning 92, 94, 92, and 90 figures and running evenly in the last eighth of a mile in all three graded stakes efforts this year. None of those efforts looks capable of beating either Global Campaign or Intrepid Heart if repeated. Similarly, Sir Winston has been uncompetitive in three graded stakes this year with fourth-, fifth-, and seventh-place finishes, the best of which earned a 99 figure. Final Jeopardy earned both wins in his career around one turn and in his only two-turn try last month in the Wood Memorial he finished sixth of 11, beaten 11 lengths with an 89 figure. Expecting enough improvement to get to the 105 to 113 figure level the winner of this race has earned in the past five years is hard to imagine.