05/11/2013 6:34PM

Belmont Park: Freedom Child romps in Peter Pan slop; Belmont Stakes next

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Tom Keyser
Freedom Child, with Luis Saez aboard, runs away from his rivals in the Peter Pan.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Freedom Child had no chance to make the Kentucky Derby when he lost all chance at the start of the Wood Memorial. Given the way he ran in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes, Freedom Child could have a big chance in the Belmont Stakes on June 8. Especially if the track is wet.

Despite an awkward start, Freedom Child quickly shot to the front under Luis Saez and turned the Peter Pan into his own personal training session, romping to a 13 1/4-length victory over a sloppy Belmont Park main track.

Saint Vigeur finished second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Go Get the Basil, who nosed out 5-2 favorite Abraham for third. Abraham was followed in the order of finish by Incognito, Fear the Kitten, My Name Is Michael, Narvaez, and Infinite Magic.

Battier and Declan’s Warrior were scratched.

Immediately after the race, Terry Finley, head of the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate that owns Freedom Child along with St Elias Stable and Spendthrift Farm, said Freedom Child would run in the Belmont Stakes.

The owners held out hope of making it to the Kentucky Derby when they entered Freedom Child in the Wood Memorial. But the horse was eliminated at the break when he reacted to Go Get the Basil, who was inside of him, beating the starting gate. Freedom Child was still in the hands of the assistant starter when the doors opened, and despite making a big run into contention down the backside, he finished last and was later declared a non-starter by the stewards.

Finley said he had no regrets about missing the Derby.

“The Kentucky Derby is tough,” Finley said. “If you don’t get there, there’s a reason. It saved a lot of agita.”

Saturday, there was only a little agita at the start.

Breaking from the rail, Freedom Child did take a right-hand turn out of the gate, but Saez quickly got him straightened away. Freedom Child was able to make the lead through a quarter-mile in 23.51 seconds, and he continued to extend his advantage through a half-mile in 46.67 seconds, six furlongs in 1:10.98, and a mile in 1:35.95. He drifted out somewhat in the sloppy stretch and covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.09. He returned $9.20 as the second choice.

“He started to get his head up in the air and I think he got off a little slow,” Tom Albertrani, who trains Freedom Child, said. “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, so it worked out well.”

Said Saez: “He wanted to run so I let him run.”

Last Nov. 24, Freedom Child finished second to Orb in a maiden race at Aqueduct. Revolutionary was third in that race.

Depending what happens with Kentucky Derby winner Orb in next Saturday’s Preakness, a rematch between all three horses could be on tap with history on the line in the June 8 Belmont Stakes.