Antiquarian Collects Victory in G3 Peter Pan

May 11, 2024

Antiquarian victorious in the Peter Pan (Joe Labozzetta)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Centennial Farms’ Antiquarian pounced from off the pace to become his sire Preservationist’s first graded stakes winner in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Peter Pan, a nine-furlong test for sophomores, at Belmont at the Big A. 

The Peter Pan is the traditional prep for the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, which will be contested at a distance of 10-furlongs at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, June 8 as part of the four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. NYRA will waive the entry and starting fees to the Belmont Stakes, excluding the supplemental fee, for the first three finishers of the Peter Pan.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by fellow Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Antiquarian improved from his graded debut in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 23, where he broke through the gate prior to the race and ran evenly to finish sixth. He adds to a second-out graduation going 1 1/16 miles in February at Fair Grounds that came on the heels of a game runner-up effort on debut in January at Gulfstream Park.  

“He ran very well in his debut and then went to Louisiana and run well. We liked the mile and three-sixteenths there and unfortunately that didn’t work out,” said Pletcher, who won a record-extending fifth Peter Pan. “At that point, we said, ‘let’s go to the Peter Pan and see how that goes.’ He’s trained really well leading up to this and trained well all winter and spring. He did everything right today – he was perfect in the paddock and perfect in the gate and I think that allowed him to run his race.”

The win marked the second in this event for Centennial Farms, who won in 2016 with Unified. They also campaigned Preservationist in an 11-start career that included wins in the Woodward (G1) at Saratoga and Suburban (G2) at Belmont Park.

Antiquarian was away well from post 4 as Unique Insight bobbled to his inside but recovered quickly to rush up and take command of the six-horse field through the first turn with post-time favorite The Wine Steward tracking in second through an opening quarter-mile in 23.95 seconds over the fast main track. 

Antiquarian kept close watch in third down the backstretch as Unique Insight maintained a comfortable lead through the half-mile in 47.96. Rounding the turn, The Wine Steward inched up to be on even terms with Unique Insight through three-quarters in 1:11.62 while Antiquarian was coaxed three-wide to be in with a shout at the stretch call.  

The Wine Steward attempted to draw clear from a stubborn Unique Insight at the top of the lane and drifted towards his rail-skimming rival to thwart the oncoming move of Protective as he tried to split rivals inside the final eighth of a mile. Antiquarian progressed with every stride in the three-path and matched strides with The Wine Steward in the final sixteenths as the pair drew clear of their two main challengers, but Antiquarian had enough late to outlast The Wine Steward and cross the wire three-quarter lengths in front in a final time of 1:48.99. 

Protective finished third 1 1/4 lengths back of The Wine Steward with Unique Insight finishing fourth. Grade 3 Gotham-winner Deterministic and Native Land completed the order of finish. Lonesome Boy, who ran fourth today in the Long Branch at Monmouth Park, and Tuscan Gold, who is pointing to the Grade 1 Preakness next Saturday, were scratched. 

Velazquez, who has ridden Antiquarian in each of his four outings, said a cleaner trip made all the difference today for the talented chestnut. 

“I was expecting a big effort from him. He was a little spotty, but I know he can keep going that pace the whole way around,” Velazquez said. “He won very nicely.

Antiquarian after his winning effort in the Peter Pan (Joe Labozzetta)

“We had a horrible trip [last time] – he hit the gate really bad and dragged me for a sixteenth of a mile, then we broke slow and got squeezed a little bit,” Velazquez added. “We went wide at the three-eighths pole – that was a rough trip for him. Today, everything was clean.”

Pletcher said Antiquarian is now likely to target the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, where he will ship to prepare for the prestigious test alongside Grade 1 Florida Derby-winner and beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Fierceness. 

“That’s what we were thinking coming into this and he certainly earned his way in today if everything goes smoothly,” said Pletcher. “We haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do with everyone yet, but Fierceness has settled in well at Saratoga and seems to have come out of the Derby in good shape. We’ll train with that [the Belmont] in mind.”

Bred in Kentucky by Brereton C. Jones, Antiquarian was a $250,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He banked $110,000 in victory and improved his record to 4-2-1-0 while returning $13.80 on a $2 win ticket. 

Luis Saez, aboard the Mike Maker-trained New York-bred The Wine Steward, said the talented colt ran evenly in the lane.

“It was a perfect trip, that was the plan. It looked like the number two [Unique Insight] was the speed, and we tried to follow him,” said Saez. “He came to the top of the stretch and looked like he was going to win easy, but he got a little tired – a little bit late. I know he’s better than that. At the top of the stretch, he was cruising. But when I asked him to go, he stayed the same.”

Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont at the Big A with a nine-race card, featuring the Grade 3, $175,000 Soaring Softly in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. 

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