05/17/2007 11:00PM

Sightseeing aims to build on Wood

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - Though Sunday's Peter Pan Stakes has produced five Belmont Stakes winners since 1979, it's been a while since anyone has pulled off the Peter Pan-Belmont double. A.P. Indy, the last horse to do so in 1992, is the grandsire of Sightseeing and Sir Whimsey, who are among the seven 3-year-olds looking to improve their standing in the division with a big effort in this Grade 2 stakes.

Also entered are Fearless Vision, Hal's My Hope, Prom Shoes, Soaring By, and Vitruvius.

Sightseeing ran exceptionally well to finish second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial as an 18-1 outsider, beaten a half-length by odds-on Nobiz Like Shobiz. But he was held out of the Kentucky Derby by trainer Shug McGaughey and comes into the Peter Pan off a six-week freshening.

"I think we did the right thing by him by letting him have the time," McGaughey said. "It's really helped his progression, and we're looking forward to Sunday."

Sightseeing, a maiden winner at Belmont last fall, has been getting faster with each race this year. The Phipps Stable homebred may wind up a lukewarm favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan, despite being eligible for a first-level allowance.

Sightseeing spent the winter racing at Gulfstream where, McGaughey pointed out, he drew outside posts for his two races. McGaughey called Gulfstream a "chasing" racetrack, meaning it helps to be close to the pace there, and he said that's not Sightseeing's style.

"Over the last month, he's gotten a lot more professional in what he's been doing," McGaughey said. "I think he's sitting on a good effort."

Vitruvius, Fearless Vision, and Hal's My Hope are all coming off fast victories that earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.

Vitruvius prevailed by a neck after a bumping match with Fearless Vision in his career debut going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, and then posted a flashy allowance score out of the chute at Aqueduct to remain unbeaten. A half-brother to Jimmy Jerkens-trained stablemate and Grade 2 route winner Corinthian, Vitruvius seems a good candidate to stretch out, but is light on experience as he makes just his third start.

After coming up a neck short to Vitruvius, Fearless Vision won two of his next three starts, all at Gulfstream, notably a lights-out performance to win a one-mile allowance by a pole with a 101 Beyer.

"It's about time to test him and see what he's all about," trainer Pat Reynolds said. "Hopefully, the one-turn straightaway is the right kind of race at the right time. He's done everything we've asked - and done it with some gas in the tank."

Reynolds noted that Fearless Vision's sire, Vision and Verse, was beaten in a photo at 54-1 in the 1999 Belmont.

"I think he's the real McCoy, and there's only one Belmont," he said. "If he runs big, we'll sit down and look at the ins and outs. It would be a nice thing for a bunch of New York guys to run in the Belmont, but the Peter Pan would be a nice race to win in itself."

Hal's My Hope, who ran fifth in the Fountain of Youth, beating half the field at 117-1, returned from an eight-week freshening to wire the Unbridled Stakes by 12 lengths last out at Calder. He is the only Peter Pan entrant with a stakes victory.

"We're very confident," trainer Barry Rose said. "Honestly, I'd be surprised if anyone beats us. He's enjoying the cold weather in New York. He's galloped on the main track and the training track, and he's handled both of them great."

Soaring By decisioned Fearless Vision in a first-level allowance two starts back, before pressing the pace and fading in the Lexington Stakes on Polytrack at Keeneland. He may be the pacesetter for Todd Pletcher, who has won two of the Peter Pan's last three runnings with Purge (2004) and Sunriver (2006).

* On Friday, Nobiz Like Shobiz had his first published workout since finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby. He breezed a half-mile in 48.42 seconds, the third-fastest of 35 works at the distance on the main track.