Weekend: Charitable Man on the rebound

Since the Peter Pan was pushed back a couple of weeks it has become a more legitimate Belmont Stakes prep, especially considering the infrequency with which modern horses run.  This year’s septet features a couple of disappointments, an outsider, a question mark, and three glorified allowance horses.  Let’s look at the field individually:

STATELY CHARACTER: He qualifies in the outsider category as his two previous attempts in graded stakes races have been quite ugly.  He was a distant 4th in the Florida Derby last time out despite getting a pretty fair pace setup.  There’s no doubt that it’s tough making a living as a closer at Gulfstream Park, but this guy had an awfully uninspiring winter and seems to need races to come back to him to have any success.  There’s some speed in here but it’s unclear whether it’ll be enough for him to get there.

HELLO BROADWAY: One of the two disappointments in the field, this son of Broken Vow and half-brother of Nobiz Like Shobiz failed as the chalk in the Tampa Derby and was promptly removed from the Derby trail by trainer Barclay Tagg.  He re-surfaced in an allowance race at Keeneland against a rather suspect field but did what he was supposed to do and won in wire-to-wire fashion.  He now shows up with blinkers in off the win, which is a bit of a head-scratcher.  Perhaps their intent is to send and try to stay.

CHARITABLE MAN: After winning the Futurity last year this guy was considered a serious 2YO and wound up on everyone’s short list of Derby contenders at the beginning of the year.  One minor setback after another pushed his 2009 debut back to April 11 in the Blue Grass, which was a terribly precarious spot to try.  He made a move on the backstretch and tired late to finish 7th and his connections thankfully dropped any willingness to run in the Ky Derby.  He has worked twice and now goes 2nd off the long layoff for a top barn, so expect a much improved effort.

BRAVE VICTORY: After a game win against allowance company at Gulfstream in late January this guy looked like an up and coming 3YO.  He showed he didn’t belong in stakes company with a distant 4th place finish in the Swale then ran a dull 7th in the Lexington.  He now moves back to dirt and stretches out to a distance that he’s yet to prove he likes.  He is an outsider for sure and is really best for those looking to beat the top picks with a bomb.

SCOREWITHCATER: Can this guy ride the wave of the game’s newest key race, the Sunland Derby?  This son of Even the Score beat the eventual Kentucky Derby winner on not one but two occasions.  He improved when moved to dirt, which is not surprising given that his trainer always hit at a high percentage before CA tracks went to synthetics.  He will have to improve from a Beyer standpoint, but aren’t you getting the least bit leary about those Sunland figures?  I am.

IMPERIAL COUNCIL: Considering this guy’s intriguing pedigree he was considered a darkhorse for the Derby earlier this year.  He ran a very subpar race in the Gotham as he chugged up late for a distant 2nd place finish.  IN the Wood, which was expected to be his coming out party, he forced the pace but came up empty in the stretch drive.  He was bet down to 5/2 in that spot despite facing the horse that had just pounded him a month earlier.  He will be overbet again today because of his connections, so forget about any value.

AL KHALI: Trainer Todd Pletcher thought he had another Derby prospect when this guy won an allowance race in early March at Gulfstream.  That allowance win was tough to watch as the final three furlongs took nearly 39 seconds as this guy simply staggered home the quickest.  He was beaten handily in the Illinois Derby and now tries stakes company again.  He has potential and may be in the need of a more aggressive ride this afternoon.  He stands a chance at a mid-range price.

The Lone Star Derby is the richest race of the afternoon and it could be the site of a familiar result.  Since Lone Star opened 12 years ago trainer Bob Baffert has won a number of stakes races, including the inaugural Texas Mile with Isitingood.  The owner that day?  Mike Pegram.  The jockey?  David Flores.  The Pegram-Baffert-Flores team will be represented by Mayor Marv, one of two Baffert trainees in this septet.  He comes out of the aforementioned Sunland Derby where he beat only one horse home but the hot pace in that event that’s been discussed for a week was set by this guy. 

There will be significantly less pace pressure for this son of Distorted Humor, so expect Flores to attempt a theft.  The Lone Star main track often plays very well to speed horses going two turns.

Enjoy the afternoon’s races and don’t worry, they will be back on the turf at Belmont soon!  We’ll leave you with the 2008 running of the Peter Pan.

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