Belmont 2013: Toss This Belmont Favorite - Super Screener
Super Screener

Belmont 2013: Toss This Belmont Favorite

Freedom Child is the hot horse going into the Belmont Stakes after his smashing win the Peter Pan Stakes.

But the Super Screener says despite the hype, Freedom Child is a toss.

Here’s why:

The best Belmont win contenders have made their prior start in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes.

But what about the Peter Pan, you ask?

The Peter Pan is Belmont Park’s main prep for its signature race, the Belmont Stakes.

Run at 1 1/8th miles on dirt, it mirrors the Kentucky Derby preps in distance and in prestige – the Peter Pan is a G2 and boasts a list of quality winners. It is a perfect stepping stone to victory in the 1 1/2 mile classic race. Or is it?

Upon closer inspection, the Peter Pan is actually not all it’s cracked up to be when handicapping for the Belmont Stakes.

Check these startling stats:

The last time a Peter Pan winner won the Belmont? AP Indy in 1992!

AP Indy’s circumstances were unusual: the Kentucky Derby favorite had been scratched the morning of the race with a foot bruise. He’d won the Santa Anita Derby and had already established himself as a top three-year-old. Once healed, he used the Peter Pan as a tune-up before asserting his dominance in the Belmont. No other Peter Pan winners have such a story.

Seven Peter Pan winners have contested the Belmont in the past 20 years. Of those, only 2 have even hit the board: Sunday Break in 2002 and Sunriver in 2006 both finished third. In 2006, the Belmont was missing both Derby and Preakness winners, and in 2002, a stumble at the break made Triple Crown threat War Emblem a non-factor. These situations were ripe for fresh faces to grab a piece of the purse.

Other good Peter Pan winners have struggled to hit the superfecta – Best of Luck was 4th in 1999 after an impressive score in the slop, and more recently, Charitable Man was 4th in 2009.

Why the poor performances?

Simply put, the Peter Pan is a good non-Triple Crown race. All of the better horses have run in either the Derby or Preakness for greater glory. It’s not difficult for a top second-tier horse to put on a visually impressive performance – especially one that was on the Triple Crown trail and competed with the better horses earlier in the year. In many cases, the Peter Pan has only 1 prior stakes winner in the field.

It’s even more difficult if the Belmont starter did not win the Peter Pan – bad news for longshot Incognito. Only one Peter Pan board-hitter in 20 years has won the Belmont (without a prior start in the Kentucky Derby): Colonial Affair in 1993! Colonial Affair was 2nd in the Peter Pan behind Virginia Rapids, who ran 5th in the Belmont.

When making your final Belmont Stakes decisions this weekend, keep this in mind when considering Freedom Child.┬áDespite the grind of the Triple Crown schedule, most Belmont winners have competed in at least one of the other races and have proven themselves at the grade 1 tier prior to Belmont day. That’s why Freedom Child is a TOSS.

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