Updated on 09/17/2011 10:28PM

Peter Pan took flight in '68

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Benoit & Associates
Robador, a California-bred, descends from a strong female family.

LAS VEGAS - It was just another allowance race in 1968. But the "purse" became a major stepping-stone after Stage Door Johnny used it to win the Belmont Stakes. A son of the influential stallion Prince John (by Princequillo), Stage Door Johnny was a flashy chestnut with his blonde mane and tail, and he was just as flashy of a racehorse.

His meteoric rise to the top of the 3-year-old division was all too brief. He started the year finishing third in a one-mile maiden race on April 17, won a one-mile maiden race in quick time (1:35.30) in his second start on May 8 (while the battle-tested Dancer's Image and Forward Pass squared off in the Kentucky Derby on May 4), and used the Peter Pan allowance to set him up perfectly for his thrilling Belmont Stakes victory over Forward Pass. He won the Saranac Handicap and Dwyer Handicap and was retired shortly thereafter because of injury. He won 5 of 8 career starts and was named champion 3-year-old.

Most importantly, his Belmont Stakes victory avoided what would have been racing's most controversial Triple Crown winner.

The popular Dancer's Image, owned by Boston's Peter Fuller, won the Kentucky Derby that year by 1 1/2 lengths over Calumet Farm's Forward Pass, but was disqualified a few days later because he was found to have Butazolidin in his system. While it is now legal, "Bute" was not allowed in the Kentucky Derby back in 1968, and Forward Pass was declared the winner.

Dancer's Image finished third in the Preakness but was disqualified and placed eighth for bothering a 28-1 shot, Sir Beau. Forward Pass, who bore over on Dancer's Image leaving the gate, went on to score an impressive six-length victory.

Forward Pass appeared on his way to victory after leading for most of the way in the Belmont Stakes - which would have produced an asterisk next to his name as a Triple Crown winner - but Stage Door Johnny outstayed Forward Pass in a prolonged stretch battle and won by 1 1/4 lengths, preventing what surely would have been a huge embarrassment to racing.

Thus, after Stage Door Johnny's victory in the Belmont, the Peter Pan allowance became a popular prep race for racing's last leg of the Triple Crown, and it evolved into the Peter Pan Stakes.

New shooters for Belmont Stakes

True to its heritage, Saturday's Peter Pan could provide some late-developing 3-year-olds with solid pedigrees for the Belmont Stakes June 11.

Chekhov: A son of Pulpit, who is a rising star at stud, Chekhov also gets high marks for his illustrious female family. His dam, In My Cap (Vice Regent), was a multiple stakes winner and a full sister to stakes winners Trumpet's Blare and Passing Vice. Chekhov is a half-brother to Bright Feather (Fappiano), the dam of major stakes winner Albert the Great.

Pulpit, who is from A.P. Indy's first crop, won 4 of 6 starts, and was the talk of racing when he first appeared in Florida in the winter of 1997. After winning his first two races, he won the Fountain of Youth Stakes, finished second in the Florida Derby, and romped in the Blue Grass Stakes before finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby and sustaining a career-ending injury to his knee during the race. Chekhov carries the Rasmussen Factor (inbreeding to a superior female within five generations through different individuals), as he is inbred to Somethingroyal, as is Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic.

Oratory: Another son of Pulpit, he is out of the multiple-stakes-winning Dehere mare Arrested Dreams, winner of 5 of 6 starts. His second dam, Moment to Buy, won 10 of 18 races, including the Hollywood Oaks. His fifth dam, Jolie Deja, produced Prodana Neviesta, the dam of Nijana, as well as a major stakes winner and sire, Mr. Leader.

Reverberate: While he showed promise last year at 2, his pedigree always suggested Reverberate would have much more of an impact at 3. His sire, Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch, has sired horses of classic ability, such as Point Given (Preakness, Belmont Stakes), Tweedside (Coaching Club American Oaks) and Spain (Breeders' Cup Distaff), and his female family is vintage Darby Dan Farm. His dam, Peggibonsi, is by a Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Proud Truth (Graustark), and is a half-sister to stakes-placed Battle Creek Girl, who became a phenomenal broodmare, producing six stakes winners. Peggibonsi is also a half-sister to stakes winner Wings of Grace, the dam of a champion turf filly, Soaring Softly, and Plenty of Grace. Three champions - Devil's Bag, Glorious Song, Singspiel - as well as Rahy and Saint Ballado descend from this female line of the highest quality.

Robador: His sire, Robannier, may not be a household name because he stands in California. But Robannier has as good a pedigree as any sire based in Kentucky. By Batonnier, a successful sire by His Majesty out of the top-class Mira Femme, Robannier is out of the Northern Dancer mare Home From the Fair, a daughter of Fairs Fair - a full sister to Arts and Letters, the Belmont Stakes winner and Horse of the Year in 1969. Robador's dam, Ivory Bowl, was a modest stakes winner, but carries the Rasmussen Factor, as she is inbred 5x5 to the full siblings Raise a Native and his sister, My Sister Kate. Robador's fourth dam, Rose Bowl, a half-sister to multiple champion Ile de Bourbon, was a champion older mare in England and a prolific stakes producer. Robador's fifth dam, Roseliere, was a champion 3-year-old filly in England.