Freedom Child assumed command shortly after the start and splashed clear to a rousing 13 ¼-length victory in Saturday’s 59th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan at Belmont Park, earning himself a shot at the June 8 Belmont Stakes.
The 3-year-old Malibu Moon ridgling, who was declared a non-starter in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 6 after being compromised at the break, got off a beat slow but quickly collected himself to lead his eight rivals through fractions of 23.51, 46.67 and 1:10.98 over the sloppy, sealed track. Edging away on the turn, Freedom Child straightened for home with an eight-length advantage and easily drew off under jockey Luis Saez and hit the wire in 1:49.09 for 1 1/8 miles.
“The plan was to be on the lead and luckily he was able to quicken up leaving the gate and get to an easy lead,” said Tom Albertrani, who trains Freedom Child for West Point Thoroughbreds, St. Elias Stable and Spendthrift Farm. “So, it worked out well. I was very pleased to see him win like that. I didn’t think he would actually draw away by that many lengths. Once I saw him on the lead like that I was pretty confident at the half-mile pole by the way he was traveling.”
Sent off at 7-2, Freedom Child returned $9.20 for a $2 win wager. With the winner’s purse of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $167,072 and extended his record to 2-1-1 from six starts.
“I think we’re going to the Belmont Stakes [Grade 1, 1 ½ miles, $1 million] in about four weeks,” said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “I hope [Kentucky Derby winner] Orb runs well in the Preakness and the whole world is watching on [June 8] for the Belmont Stakes, and I hope we upset the apple cart.”
Saint Vigeur, who defeated Freedom Child in a maiden race on February 9 at Gulfstream Park, finished second, with Go Get the Basil 2 ¼ lengths back in third. Abraham, the 5-2 favorite, was fourth, followed by Incognito, Fear the Kitten, My Name is Michael, Narvaez, and Infinite Magic.
Battier and Declan’s Warrior were scratched.