05/20/2004 12:00AM

Let's see how Peter Pan flies

Friends Lake runs in the Peter Pan Stakes on Saturday at Belmont. If Friends Lake runs well, his trainer, John Kimmel, might take a shot at Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes two weeks later.

ELMONT, N.Y. - For some trainers, Saturday's $200,000 is a way to get their horses to a meeting with Smarty Jones two weeks from now in the $1 million Belmont Stakes. For others, the Grade 2 Peter Pan is a chance to get away from the undefeated Smarty Jones, who will seek to become the sport's 12th Triple Crown winner in the Belmont.

Whatever the case, a field of 10 was entered for Saturday's Peter Pan, a one-turn, 1 1/8-mile race that has produced five Belmont Stakes winners since 1979. Purge, Master David, and Friends Lake, who all have been soundly beaten by Smarty Jones, figure to be the top three betting choices in the Peter Pan.

John Kimmel, the trainer of Florida Derby winner Friends Lake, is the only trainer in the race with definite designs on the Belmont. Friends Lake, a son of 1992 Peter Pan and Belmont winner A.P. Indy, was beaten 36 3/4 lengths by Smarty Jones in the Kentucky Derby following a seven-week layoff.

Kimmel said he considered running Friends Lake back in the Preakness, but preferred to keep the horse at Belmont where he trained all last fall and earned his highest Beyer Speed Figure, winning the Sleepy Hollow Stakes restricted to New York-breds. Friends Lake also had gate issues leading up to the Kentucky Derby, and had to be loaded first for that race.

"His best race to date has been here at Belmont," Kimmel said. "The gate crew knows him. I've taken him to the gate already; he's not going to have to load first. I think all those little variables make it nice. I guess my major concern is if he runs a big race and we'll just have to see if I can get him back to run back in two weeks. He's a very fresh horse, as we all know. He hasn't done anything since the Florida Derby except gallop around there on Derby Day and get dirty."

Friends Lake will break from post 5 under Richard Migliore and carry co-high weight of 123 pounds. Sinister G, the Lane's End Stakes winner, also carries 123 pounds. The rest of the Peter Pan runners carry 115.

Sinister G, who adds blinkers and breaks from the rail, will probably be the main speed of the Peter Pan. He came out of a ninth-place finish in the Wood Memorial with a respiratory infection that prevented him from running in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer John Toscano Jr. believes his horse could be the main speed of the Belmont Stakes, but Toscano said Sinister G has "got to do a Coastal" to run back in the Belmont. Coastal won the 1979 Peter Pan and came back two weeks later to upset Spectacular Bid's Triple Crown bid in the Belmont.

Purge, who has lost twice to Smarty Jones, could be the right one in the Peter Pan. Purge showed the ability to rate winning two sprints to start his career. He showed strong early speed in two races at Oaklawn. Pletcher took the blinkers off Purge for the Arkansas Derby, hoping to get him to rate. It didn't work.

"The horse broke a step slow, Cornelio [Velasquez] was concerned about getting shuffled back and he pushed the horse into the race," Pletcher said. "If you leave there quietly on him he will relax."

Master David, the runner-up in the Wood Memorial, enters the Peter Pan off a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Bobby Frankel believes Master David will relish the one-turn of the Peter Pan, and the wide, sweeping turns of Belmont Park in general. As of Thursday, Frankel had only mild interest in the Belmont Stakes.

"I think the big turns, the long stretch will be better for him," Frankel said. "Watching his races, he comes off the bridle around the turns. I think he's going to like that long stretch here."

Consecrate, trained by Bob Baffert, has undergone throat surgery since finishing ninth in the Wood. Consecrate has trained well since the operation, but Baffert said he would have to run an exceptional race to be considered for the Belmont.

"He would have to run really well to take a shot at Little Red," Baffert said.

Swingforthefences, Pies Prospect, Zakocity, Wild Wadi, and Intimidator complete the field.

In other Belmont news:

* At Philadelphia Park, Smarty Jones galloped 1 1/2 miles alongside his stable pony Butterscotch. Afterward, trainer John Servis continued to rave about how his dual-classic winner was doing.

"I can sum it up in one word - super," Servis said. "He let out about four squeals in the middle of the gallop. I couldn't be happier with him."

* Rock Hard Ten went to the track Thursday morning for the first time since his second-place finish in the Preakness, jogging once around Belmont Park's 1 1/2-mile oval.

"He was feeling super today," trainer Jason Orman said. "A lot of times you don't know how they've come out of a race until the gallop. We'll see when we gallop him and work him. Right now, it looks like he's doing really good."

Orman flew back to Southern California on Thursday, and was expected to return on Sunday. Rock Hard Ten, who acted up prior to entering the starting gate before the Preakness, was scheduled to visit the Belmont gate on both Saturday and Sunday.