05/12/2012 6:40PM

Belmont Park: Mark Valeski wins Peter Pan a week after passing on Kentucky Derby

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Mark Valeski wins the Peter Pan under Rosie Napravnik. He will now be considered for the Belmont Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Owner Brereton Jones and trainer Larry Jones were rewarded for their decision to skip last week’s Kentucky Derby when Mark Valeski rallied to win Saturday’s Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park in a solid, albeit not spectacular performance.

Despite racing wide throughout under Rosie Napravnik, Mark Valeski surged past the pacesetting 47-1 longshot Right to Vote at the eighth pole and persevered to the wire to beat that horse by 1 1/4 lengths. It was one-half length back to Street Life in third.

Good Morning Diva, Big Screen, The Lumber Guy, Hakama, Summer Front, Master Rick and Le Bernardin completed the order of finish. Teeth of the Dog and Zetterholm were scratched in favor of running in next Saturday’s Preakness.

The unrelated Joneses decided to skip the Derby after Mark Valeski - the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby runner-up at Fair Grounds - failed to wow them in his final work before the Derby.

The extra week, the smaller field, and the lesser competition all served Mark Valeski well in the Peter Pan.

After breaking with the pack, Mark Valeski was taken about five lengths off the pace by Napravnik as Right to Vote, under Alex Solis, carved out fractions of 22.71 seconds for the quarter and 45.35 for the half-mile.

After three-quarters were run in 1:09.52, Mark Valeski advanced four wide around the far turn and moved into second straightening away into the stretch. Mark Valeski collared Right to Vote mid-stretch and edged away from him late. Right to Vote held off Street Life, who rallied from last to be third under Jose Lezcano.

Mark Valeski covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.31 and returned $4.70 as the 6-5 favorite.

Napravnik said she kept her horse wide on purpose.

“I didn’t want to tuck in behind them and get stuck because I felt like I was on the best horse,” Napravnik said. “But we did lose a lot of ground, which shows how good he is.”

Larry Jones said he saw the type of performance he thought he would get from Mark Valeski, a son of Proud Citizen who now has three wins from six starts.

“We just needed a real good race in him to see where we sat and where to go and he answered the questions like we thought he should and like we thought he could,” Jones said. “We’re very happy with his performance today.”

Jones planned to take Mark Valeski back to his summer base of Churchill Downs and watch how the Preakness unfolds before deciding whether to run back in the $1 million Belmont Stakes here on June 9.

“We’re sure going to look at it because it sure looked like he handled this track well,” Jones said. “Slowing the fractions down a little bit he’s going to carry his speed a lot farther. He’ll probably be a forward factor in the Belmont, especially if Bodemeister and them rip each other apart in the Preakness. We’re sure not going to rule it out; we know where Belmont is.”

Right to Vote isn’t nominated to the Triple Crown so he will not start in the Belmont Stakes. A race like the Dwyer here on June 30 is more likely.

Chad Brown, the trainer of Street Life, said he was very happy with the way his horse finished and that he would take a strong look at the Belmont Stakes.

“He looks like a horse looking to run a route of ground,” Brown said. “It’s a rare opportunity to run that far on dirt. If the horse is doing well, I’d definitely take a look at the Belmont.”