Uni­fied stretches out in Peter Pan Stakes

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – David Gren­ing – Steve An­der­sen

ELMONT, N.Y. – Though some may be us­ing Satur­day’s Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes as a step­ping-stone to the Bel­mont Stakes, Uni­fied is sim­ply us­ing it as the third race of his ca­reer.

An im­pres­sive win­ner of his first two starts, Uni­fied will try to stretch his speed to 1 1/8 miles against seven ri­vals in the Peter Pan, one of four graded stakes on Satur­day’s 11-race card.

Uni­fied, a son of Candy Ride, won his de­but go­ing six fur­longs at Gulf­stream Park on Feb. 21. He had eight weeks be­fore his next start, which was a three­length vic­tory in the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes go­ing seven fur­longs at Aqueduct. Had trainer Jimmy Jerkens cho­sen to keep Uni­fied sprint­ing, it likely would have meant wait­ing nine weeks un­til the Woody Stephens Stakes on the June 11 Bel­mont Stakes un­der­card.

“I didn’t want to wait that long,” Jerkens said. “If you have a horse on the top of his game, it seems kind of stupid to sit around that long. Even though it is a mile and an eighth, it’s around one turn. You don’t have to worry how he’s go­ing to go into the first turn, if he’s go­ing to be rank. Seems like you can be a lit­tle rank in these kinds of races and it’s not the end of the world. That’s why I found it ap­peal­ing.”

Jerkens said that re­gard­less of how Uni­fied fares in the Peter Pan, run­ning in the Bel­mont Stakes “might be stretch­ing it.”

Uni­fied, who will break from post 7 un­der Jose Or­tiz, is the only graded stakes win­ner in the field. Dec­o­rated Sol­dier won the North­ern Spur Stakes at Oak­lawn on April 16, while Gov­er­nor Mal­ibu won the Gan­der Stakes for New York­breds at Aqueduct in Fe­bru­ary.

Round­ing out the Peter Pan field are Ad­ven­tist, third in the Wood Memo­rial; maiden win­ners Wild About Deb, Su­pah Czech, and Lost Iron; and the maiden Sin­gle­ton.

Trainer Chad Brown has one-third of the nine-horse field for Satur­day’s Grade 1, $400,000 Man o’ War Stakes at Bel­mont Park, as he en­tered Wake For­est, Money Mul­ti­plier, and Mo­randi in the 1 3/8-mile race on turf.

Wake For­est might be fa­vored. He was beaten just a head by Kai­gun in the Grade 2 Pan Amer­i­can at Gulf­stream Park, his first start since last Au­gust’s Ar­ling­ton Mil­lion. Wake For­est will break from post 9 un­der John Ve­lazquez.

Money Mul­ti­plier fin­ished sec­ond in a cou­ple of graded stakes go­ing 1 1/8 miles last sum­mer. He made a suc­cess­ful 4-year-old de­but with an al­lowance win at Aqueduct on April 15. Money Mul­ti­plier drew post 2 and will be rid­den by Irad Or­tiz Jr.

Mo­randi, who did not have much luck in his first two starts in the U.S., will break from the rail un­der Javier Castel­lano.

Train­ers Gra­ham Mo­tion and Bill Mott have each en­tered two in the field. Mo­tion goes with Up With the Birds, who won the Grade 1 Ja­maica (now the Bel­mont Derby) in 2013, and Can’thelp­be­liev­ing. Mott sends out Clos­ing Bell and Go Around.

Kai­gun, who beat Wake For­est in the Pan Amer­i­can be­fore run­ning sec­ond in the Elkhorn, and Biz the Nurse com­plete the field.

Tom Al­ber­trani trains Biz the Nurse. He also trains Twi­light Eclipse, who won this race last year. Al­ber­trani said he wanted to give Twi­light Eclipse more time from his race in the Elkhorn on April 23 and tar­get the Bel­mont In­vi­ta­tional, a two-mile turf race on June 10.

Ca­vort­ing, a Grade 1-win­ning sprinter last year at age 3, will try to stretch out to a mile in Satur­day’s Grade 2, $250,000 Ruf­fian Stakes at Bel­mont. In races at seven fur­longs or shorter, Ca­vort­ing is 5-1-1 from eight starts.

Santa Anita: Laz Barrera

ARCADIA, Calif. – The Santa Anita Derby on April 9 ended for Iron Rob be­fore it truly be­gan. A long­shot, Iron Rob strug­gled with the foot­ing on a sealed and sloppy track and fin­ished last of eight.

“He slipped com­ing out of the gate,” trainer Ge­orge Pa­pa­pro­dro­mou said. “He didn’t get a hold of the track.”

On Satur­day, Pa­pa­pro­dro­mou and owner Rustin Kretz will send out Iron Rob in the $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven fur­longs. This time, the weather is not ex­pected to be a fac­tor, the com­pe­ti­tion not as dif­fi­cult, and Iron Rob will be sprint­ing, which is his strength.

Ear­lier this year, Iron Rob won con­sec­u­tive sprints for 3-year-olds here on the main track – the Baf­fle Stakes at 6 1/2 fur­longs on Feb. 21 and the San Pe­dro Stakes at six fur­longs on March 20. The start in the Santa Anita Derby was a cal­cu­lated gam­ble to test Iron Rob against some of the best 3-yearolds in Cal­i­for­nia. Ex­ag­ger­a­tor won the Santa Anita Derby and was sec­ond to Nyquist in the Ken­tucky Derby last Satur­day.

The Grade 3 Barrera will be a test in it­self for Iron Rob, a colt by Twirling Candy who has won 3 of 11 starts and earned $157,665. The field is ex­pected to in­clude Den­man’s Call, who was third in the Grade 2 San Vi­cente Stakes in Fe­bru­ary be­hind Nyquist and Ex­ag­ger­a­tor, and Smokey Im­age, the Cal­i­for­niabred cham­pion 2-year-old male of 2015.

Iron Rob, who will be rid­den by Ste­wart El­liott, is ex­pected to race near the front. Pa­pa­pro­dro­mou said a win could lead to an­other start in a two-turn race, per­haps in the $100,000 Af­firmed Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds on July 2.

“Down the road, I’d like to give him an­other shot go­ing long,” Pa­pa­pro­dro­mou said.

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