05/27/2005 11:00PM

Oratory impressive; Belmont unlikely

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Oratory set a Peter Pan record, but is unlikely to run in the Belmont.

ELMONT, N.Y. - There may be a new 3-year-old star on the horizon, but it is likely he won't be seen again until after the Belmont Stakes.

Oratory, who came around so late that his connections didn't nominate him to the Triple Crown series, put forth a stakes-record performance Saturday, winning the $200,000 by 4 3/4 lengths over Reverberate at Belmont Park. It was 6 1/2 lengths back to Golden Man in third.

Oratory's final time of 1:46.35 for nine furlongs was a stakes record, eclipsing Slew o' Gold's time of 1:46.80 in 1983. Despite the performance, trainer Tom Albertrani indicated it was unlikely Oratory would run back in the June 11 Belmont Stakes.

Owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who campaigns Oratory under his Darley Stable banner, would have to supplement the colt to the Belmont for a $100,000 fee.

"I think the Belmont will be most unlikely,'' said Albertrani, who has his sights set on the Travers on Aug. 27 at Saratoga. "Before we make any decisions, we'll let Sheikh Mohammed decide if he wants to do that or not.''

Reverberate, who finished second in the Peter Pan, could run back in the Belmont. He is nominated to the Triple Crown, and his owner, Centennial Farms, won the 1993 Belmont with Colonial Affair after running second in the Peter Pan.

Chekhov finished a well-beaten fourth as the 3-2 favorite in the Peter Pan. His trainer, Patrick Biancone, said he would check with his owners before deciding on the Belmont.

Oratory ($12.80), a son of Pulpit, won for the third time from five starts. Previously, Oratory always came from off the pace. Saturday, breaking from the outside post under Jerry Bailey, Oratory broke on top and set the pace through a tepid opening quarter run in 24.05 seconds.

After the opening-half-mile, Oratory was engaged from the inside by Reverberate and those two ran heads apart through three quarters in 1:11.19. Turning for home, Bailey threw a couple of crosses at Oratory and the colt pulled away.

"I didn't intend to be on the lead, they kind of just gave it to him,'' Bailey said. "I watched all his races and he was a horse that looked like he would hit his best stride the last quarter of a mile, so I figured whatever they gave him easy, it was lengths he didn't have to make up the last part of it.''

Sal Russo, the trainer of Reverberate, said he had mixed emotions about his colt's performance.

"You're always disappointed to get beat, but you've got to be pleased,'' Russo said. "He ran very well.''

Chekhov, under Gary Stevens, was bumped soon after the start, and dropped back to seventh in the early stages. He made a mild bid around the turn, but flattened out.

"He was very babyish today,'' Biancone said. "He was a little bumped at the start, he became a little bit scared, and he pulled up. After he made a good move on the turn he got a bit tired.''

* As of Saturday, the list of possible Belmont Stakes starters included Afleet Alex, Andromeda's Hero, A.P. Arrow, Buzzards Bay, Giacomo, Pinpoint, Southern Africa, Sort It Out, and Watchmon.