Peter Pan pick: 1 runner shows a class advantage

Peter Pan pick: 1 runner shows a class advantage
Photo: NYRA

When most of the speed figures look the same, the best route is to take the entry with the highest class. For example, in the Grade 3, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on Saturday, the top contenders seem even on speed figures. But there is one colt with a class advantage.

The Mark Casse-trained Golden Glider holds the class advantage. He is one of three runners in the Peter Pan who exits a graded-stakes race. Golden Glider also is making his fourth graded-stakes attempt.

In Golden Glider’s most recent start, he faded slightly to fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland after tracking the leader Emmanuel. Even though Golden Glider proved no match for Zandon or Smile Happy, there are positive notes about his effort.

For one, Golden Glider still ran fourth behind three high-quality 3-year-olds in Zandon, Smile Happy and Emmanuel. In Zandon’s next start, he made a nice closing bid for third in the Kentucky Derby. Smile Happy flattened out to eighth in the Derby, but he did make a notable move on the far turn. Both Zandon and Smile Happy are high-quality runners. 

Given the class level of Zandon and Smile Happy, finishing 6 3/4 lengths behind Zandon counts as a good effort, especially when assessing his chances against this field. If Golden Glider merely repeats the effort on Saturday or takes a step forward in the Peter Pan, he probably can win.

Make note of Golden Glider’s improved speed in the Blue Grass as well.

Golden Glider ran as a closer in his four starts before the Blue Grass. In his career debut at Woodbine, Golden Glider began the race in last out of 12 horses before closing for the win. He made a closing bid from last in his optional claiming win at Tampa Bay Downs in January as well.   

As for his Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) efforts, Golden Glider started off each of those races in seventh before running evenly in the stretch and finishing fifth and fourth in those two races.

In the Blue Grass, though, Golden Glider went into tracking mode early by running in second through the first half of the race. The change in tactics is significant, as closers who show more speed are usually due for a big effort. If Golden Glider can settle into the same position, he also can avoid traffic.

Considering there are entries from trainer Richard Mandella, Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher, the public might leave Golden Glider alone. Fans flock to Brown and Pletcher in graded-stakes races more often than not.  

Mandella starts the promising Set Sail, who broke his maiden at Santa Anita by 7 1/2 lengths on March 27. Notice the weakness of the field. The third-place finisher Q B One is a talentless son of Beholder who ran seventh in his next start on April 17. Set Sail’s early presser Bletchley Park faded to fifth and then ended up fifth again while cutting back on April 16.

Brown starts the gelding Electability, the winner of an optional claiming race by a head at Aqueduct on April 8. The negative part is that the runner-up Luna Sima lost a starter allowance in his next start on May 8 by 1 1/2 lengths. On the positive side, he does show good speed figures.

Pletcher’s Complete Agenda broke his maiden in his fifth start at Aqueduct on April 21. While the main contenders show TimeformUS Speed Figures above 100, this son of Curlin has not reached 100 yet.

We the People deserves attention as a promising colt who broke his maiden by 5 3/4 lengths at Oaklawn and won an optional claimer by five lengths. However, his seventh in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at short odds is disappointing. He might bounce back here with a decent effort. 

The Peter Pan also has Western River, a full brother to the 2016 Belmont Stakes champion Creator. Like Complete Agenda, Western River broke his maiden in his fifth start in an Oaklawn maiden race on April 2. Western River won by 3 3/4 lengths after initially starting 13 lengths behind.

Watching Western River’s maiden win is worth the time, as he did receive a generous pace setup from Paid in Full and Plausible Denile.

Despite those other options, Golden Glider is the selection. If he somehow gets lost on the board at 7-2 or higher, those are good win odds on him. Looking back at his record, Golden Glider has not started at single-digit odds since the Sam F. Davis.

A trifecta wheel with Golden Glider on top also might work, especially if his wins odds become a little low.

Here are the final bets.

Win: 5

Trifecta wheel: 5 / 1,2,4,6 / 1,2,4,6

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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