05/27/2001 11:00PM

Hero's Tribute beats E Dubai in Peter Pan


ELMONT, N.Y. - Hero's Tribute, who at one time was considered a stronger Kentucky Derby threat than stablemate Monarchos, restored his lofty reputation Saturday, splashing his way to a 3 3/4-length victory in the $200,000 Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.

Hero's Tribute dueled most of the way with E Dubai, who gave way in upper stretch and settled for second, 10 1/4 lengths ahead of Dayton Flyer. Sirpa, Meetyouathebrig, Telescam, and I Love Silver completed the order of finish.

The Peter Pan, which has produced at least one Belmont Stakes starter in 23 of the last 24 years, will not produce one this year. Trainer John Ward will run Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos in the June 9 Belmont and will point Hero's Tribute to the $500,000 Grade 1 Swaps on July 15 at Hollywood Park.

Hero's Tribute, a son of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, was bumped off the Triple Crown trail when he popped a quarter crack while finishing last in the Blue Grass Stakes. Saturday, he was equipped with a Z-bar shoe to protect the foot and blinkers, which put him immediately into the race.

Breaking from post 7 under Jorge Chavez, Hero's Tribute roared out of the gate and dueled with E Dubai through early fractions of 22.55 seconds, 44.87, and 1:08.59. Jerry Bailey gave E Dubai a little breather at the half-mile pole before re-engaging Hero's Tribute around the turn.

In upper stretch, Hero's Tribute accelerated again and cut in front of E Dubai once clear and drew off. Over a sloppy track, Hero's Tribute covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.47 - equaling A.P. Indy for the fourth fastest Peter Pan - and returned $13.60 to win.

"He broke real sharp; I just let him go," Chavez said. "Down the backside he jumped the mud. After that, I smooched to him to make sure he kept running. In the stretch when I showed him the stick he just kept going."

Said Ward: "It was a very fast racetrack, but it was an outstanding performance. He closed today in a straight line. His head didn't come up and he kept running. I think we got him figured out."

* Dat You Miz Blue ($2.70) bounced back from her sixth-place finish in the Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap with a front-running 6 3/4-length victory in a money allowance race Saturday. Her final time of 1:07.92 was .26 second off the track record set by Artax in the 1999 Forest Hills Handicap.