05/09/2009 12:00AM

Charitable Man back on top

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Ridden by Alan Garcia, Charitable Man draws off to a 3 3/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2 Peter Pan. He may go on to the Belmont Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Back on conventional dirt, Charitable Man was back to his winning ways Saturday, putting forth a dominant effort in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes, one that could make him a factor in the Belmont Stakes in four weeks.

Sitting second behind the runaway speed of Hello Broadway, favored Charitable Man ($5.40) drew up alongside that rival turning for home, and then opened up under a vigorous ride from Alan Garcia to record a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park. Imperial Council, who loomed a threat at the three-sixteenths pole, had to settle for second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Brave Victory. Hello Broadway, Scorewithcater, Al Khali, and Stately Character completed the order of finish.

The final time of 1:47.13 - when converted to fifths - tied Coastal's time of 1:47 for the third fastest Peter Pan from 54 runnings at the 1 1/8-mile distance. Coastal won the 1979 Belmont Stakes, denying Spectacular Bid a Triple Crown.

"Maybe we move forward to the Belmont," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Charitable Man for owner William Warren. "He's a fresh horse, he's bred to get the mile and a half, and he's 2 for 2 on this track."

Charitable Man, a son of 1999 Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid, won the Grade 2 Futurity here last September, but suffered a knee fracture while training to the Champagne. McLaughlin brought him back in the Blue Grass, run over Keeneland's Polytrack, where he finished seventh.

"The Polytrack was just a throw-out," McLaughlin said. "We tried it and we benefited from it fitness-wise and it worked out great."

Charitable Man settled into second while Hello Broadway, equipped with an extension blinker over his right eye for the first time, raced out to an eight-length lead while running a half-mile in 44.89 seconds. Garcia saved ground on Charitable Man until the quarter pole, when he came outside of Hello Broadway. After throwing a couple of crosses at Charitable Man, Garcia used the whip in moderation as his horse pulled away.

Imperial Council, the second choice at 2-1, raced in fourth position and tried to make a run at Charitable Man, but was no match for him.

"Leaving the quarter pole I thought maybe we were going to win," trainer Shug McGaughey said. "And when they straightened out, that horse had another gear; we just couldn't catch him."

* On the first Saturday in which NYRA guaranteed the late pick-four pool at $350,000, a total of $471,730 was bet. With three favorites and a second choice winning, the pick four returned $221.