Inheriting the favorite’s role in Saturday’s $194,000 Peter Pan S. (G3) following the scratch of the Preakness (G1)-bound Risk Taking, Promise Keeper did his part by repelling a bid from Nova Rags in deep stretch and taking the 1 1/8-mile fixture for three-year-olds at Belmont Park by 2 1/4 lengths under Luis Saez.
Owned by Woodford Thoroughbred and WinStar Farm, Promise Keeper tracked in second behind the pace-setting Wolfie’s Rascal, took over around the far turn and eventually turned back Nova Rags in mid-stretch. He completed the course in 1:50.71 over a fast track. Nova Rags had 1 1/2 lengths on Overtook, who was followed by I Am the Law and Wolfie’s Dynaghost.
“He’s got a big bouncy, reachy stride and it seems like the further he goes, the better he gets,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Historically, the Peter Pan has been a good prep for the Belmont S. (G1). I’ll talk to the connections about it, but that was amongst the discussions leading into this.”
The Peter Pan was the third win in five starts for Promise Keeper, who finished a distant fourth in his debut in early January, but rebounded the following month to win by five lengths over a sloppy Gulfstream strip.
Last of 12 when bet down to 4-1 in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) next time, Promise Keeper was on better form last out when taking an entry-level allowance at Keeneland by more than five lengths going nine furlongs. He’s now earned $184,600.
Bred in Kentucky by Rock Ridge Thoroughbreds, Promise Keeper was sold for $160,000 at Keeneland September. By Constitution, he’s out of Mira Alta, a Curlin half-sister to Grade 1 winner Great Hunter.
Runhappy S. (G3)
The class of Firenze Fire was too much for pace-setter Chateau to deny as the former drew off to a 3 1/4-length victory in the $145,500 Runhappy S. (G3), which marked the season debut for the six-year-old Grade 1 veteran.
Under Irad Ortiz Jr., Firenze Fire rated in second, a couple of lengths off of Chateau, through fractions of :22.59 and :45.51. A lonely lead for Chateau proved not enough as Firenze Fire caught the speedster approaching the eighth pole and won easily in a time of 1:09.76 for six furlongs. Chateau held second by three parts of a length over Town Classic in the field of five.
“He feels great. I think this is going to be a good year for him,” Ortiz said.
A homebred racing for Mr. Amore Stables, and trained by Kelly Breen, Firenze Fire paid $3.80.
The Runhappy was the 12th career stakes win for Firenze Fire, who’s bankrolled more than $2.3 million while winning 13 of 32 starts. In addition to winning the Ruhappy for a second time, Firenze Fire has also won past editions of the Champagne (G1), Vosburgh (G2), True North (G2), Sanford (G3), Gallant Bob (G3), Dwyer (G3), and General George (G3).
Bred in Florida, Firenze Fire is by Poseidon’s Warrior and out of My Every Wish, by Langfuhr. He hails from the family of Broodmare of the Year Oatsee, who produced Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford and graded winners Lady Joanne, Afleeting Lady, and Baghdaria.
Vagrancy H. (G3)
In a race that played out similarly as the Runhappy, the $145,000 Vagrancy H. (G3) for fillies and mares was won for the second consecutive year by Victim of Love, who rated in behind the front-running Sadie Lady before overtaking that rival in upper stretch. Under Joel Rosario, Victim of Love drew off late to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Sadie Lady finished second by a nose over the favored Pacific Gale, who was slow away from the gate.
Owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds and trained by Todd Beattie, Victim of Love covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.27 and paid $6.30 as the second choice in a field of five.
Victim of Love is only the second two-time winner of the Vagrancy, which dates to 1948. The first was the Hall of Fame filly Sky Beauty (1994-95).
In addition to her victory in the Vagrancy, Victim of Love also captured the What a Summer S. at Laurel last season and placed in the Ballerina (G1) and Barbara Fritchie (G3). She’s earned more than $400,000 from a record six wins in 18 starts.
Bred in Kentucky by Daniel Burke, Victim of Love is by Speightstown and out of Grade 2 winner Spacy Tracy, by Awesome Again. Victim of Love is a full sister to Grade 2 heroine Benner Island.