February 22, 2024

Master Plan, Timeline headline six-horse Peter Pan

Master Plan trained forwardly at Churchill Downs, recording a recent half-mile bullet work, and will use the Peter Pan as a Belmont Stakes prep (c) Coady Photo

After missing the Kentucky Derby due to insufficient points, Master Plan has been redirected to Saturday’s $200,000 Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park. The UAE Derby (G2) third-placer is one of two top draws along with Timeline, who will make a highly-anticipated stakes debut after rolling to a 13-length allowance romp at Aqueduct.

The 1 1/8-mile race serves as a local prep for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the 149th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Master Plan broke his maiden on turf the second-time out last fall and recorded a rallying second to stablemate Tapwrit when jumping straight to a stakes in the off-the-turf Pulpit at Gulfstream Park in mid-December. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt followed with a 2 ½-length victory in the January 24 OBS Championship on a synthetic track.

An $850,000 2-year-old purchase, Master Plan switched back to dirt for the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby and offered a stout closing kick to finish 1 ¼ lengths behind the favored Thunder Snow. He was entered to the Kentucky Derby but could not draw into the field from the also-eligible list. John Velazquez retains the mount on the son of Twirling Candy and Master Plan should rolling in the latter stages.

Timeline could be the one to catch in the stretch. Unbeaten from a pair of starts for Chad Brown, the Hard Spun colt didn’t make his debut until March 4, winning as the favorite over a salty group of maiden special weight foes on the Fountain of Youth (G2) undercard at Gulfstream Park.

The $500,000 yearling stretched out to a route a month later, registering a field-best 104 BRIS Speed rating for his aforementioned spectacular allowance tally, and Timeline will keep Javier Castellano in the saddle for his first stakes appearance.

Brown will also send out Take Your Guns, who exits a 2 ½-length maiden win going 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland in his second start. Joel Rosario sticks with the son of Blame.

Meantime steps up to face winners after crushing maiden special weight opponents at Keeneland, leading wire-to-wire in a 7 ½-length decision at 1 1/8 miles. Brian Lynch conditions the Shackleford colt but Meantime loses the services of Rosario, with Jose Ortiz taking over the reins.

Florida Derby fourth-placer Impressive Edge has shipped in from Kentucky for trainer Dale Romans and Luis Saez will be up. Lookin at Blessing, who will need to find form following a dull fifth in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland, completes the line-up.

The Peter Pan is one of four graded stakes at Belmont Saturday and later on the program, five distaffers will square off in the $250,000 Ruffian (G2). Highway Star and Indulgent, the 1-2 finishers in the April 9 Distaff (G3) at Aqueduct, are both back for the one-mile test.

Multiple stakes heroine and Grade 1 runner-up Bar of Gold rates as a top contender, and graded winners High Ridge Road and Verve’s Tale complete the short but well-matched field.