May 19, 2024

Risk Taking tops six-horse Peter Pan; Firenze Fire leads Runhappy

Risk Taking
Risk Taking wins the Withers Stakes (Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand)

Peter Pan S. (G3) – Race 9 (5:12 p.m. ET)

Withers (G3) winner Risk Taking heads six runners in Saturday’s $200,000 Peter Pan S. (G3) at Belmont Park. The 1 1/8-mile race provides a local prep for the final leg of the Triple Crown, the June 5 Belmont Stakes, for three-year-olds who missed the Kentucky Derby.

Belmont Stakes winners who contested the Peter Pan include Sir Winston (2019), Tonalist (2014), Lemon Drop Kid (199), and A.P. Indy (1992).

Trainer Chad Brown entered Risk Taking in the Peter Pan, but his pupil remains under consideration for the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico a week later. The Medaglia d’Oro colt will take some beating if he doesn’t get scratched.

A 3 3/4-length winner of the Withers two back, Risk Taking will look to rebound from a seventh as the favorite in the Wood Memorial S. (G2) at Aqueduct in early April. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call.

Grade 3 runner-ups Nova Rags and Overtook are the main challengers.

Winner of the seven-furlong Pasco S. in his sophomore opener, Nova Rags followed with a second in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) in early February. The Union Rags colt exits a fourth in the March 27 Florida Derby (G1), and Junior Alvarado will be up for Bill Mott.

Overtook, one of two in the field for Todd Pletcher, will make his first appearance since a runner-up in the Withers in early February. A convincing maiden scorer two starts back, Curlin colt is bred to relish Saturday’s distance, and John Velazquez will take over the reins.

Pletcher also will send out Promise Keeper, who was last seen winning an entry-level allowance at Keeneland by 5 1/2 lengths. Luis Saez will guide the son of Constitution. Wolfie’s Dynaghost will his make his outing since capturing his career debut, a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct, in mid-November. I Am Law, winless from two starts, completes the field.

Runhappy S. (G3) – Race 4 (2:31 p.m. ET)

Eleven-time stakes hero Firenze Fire will be the one to beat in the $150,000 Runhappy S. (G3) at six furlongs. An earner of more than $2.2 million, the Kelly Breen-trained horse will open his six-year-old campaign against four foes.

A five-time stakes winner at Belmont, Firenze Fire will make his first start since a close second in the Mr. Prospector S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park in mid-December. Irad Ortiz will ride.

Tom Fool H. (G3) victor Chateau, fourth most recently in the April 3 Carter H. (G1), is the likely second choice. Kendrick Carmouche will be up for Rob Altras. Drafted, Stan the Man, and Town Classic round out the lineup.

$150,000 Vagrancy H. (G3) – Race 7 (4:06 p.m. ET)

Pacific Gale will seek her third consecutive graded victory this year when she lines up for the $150,000 Vagrancy H. (G3). The John Kimmel-trained mare will meet six female rivals in the six-furlong event.

A six-year-old daughter of Flat Out, Pacific Gale opened the season with comfortable wins in the Inside Information S. (G2) and Hurricanebertie S. (G3) at Gulfstream. Velazquez rides the stalker.

Victim of Love will make a title defense. The five-year-old mare recorded a 27-1 upset in the six-furlong event last year, and she’ll try to upend rivals Saturday after opening 2021 with a runner-up finish in a Laurel Park allowance 56 days ago. Joel Rosario will guide for Todd Beattie.

French Empire will bring a four-race win streak to her stakes debut, most recently crushing allowance foes at Oaklawn Park as the odds-on favorite. Javier Castellano picks up the mount for new trainer Brad Cox. Stakes winners Honor Way, Kiss the Girl, Piedi Bianchi, and Sadie Lady complete the cast.