In a race called the Peter Pan, what better hunch bet than a 3-year-old named Freedom Child? Yet it wasn't superstition that dropped his odds to 7-2 from a 12-1 morning line, because this boy decided to grow up and fly away Saturday at rain-soaked Belmont Park.
Freedom Child quickly went to the front for Luis Saez after breaking a step slowly and never was challenged in a 13¼-length runaway in the Grade II prep for the Belmont Stakes. "The plan was to go to the lead,'' trainer Tom Albertrani said, "and fortunately he made an easy lead. I was pretty confident at the half-mile pole the way he was traveling.''
Like Orb, Freedom Child was sired by Malibu Moon, and he took to the muck the way the Derby winner did last week. A 15-minute downpour an hour before the race turned a sloppy surface into one resembling a beach at high tide. It had favored speed all day, and Freedom Child punctuated the script. Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, said he'll run in the Belmont on June 8.
Freedom Child paid $9.20 for his second win in six starts and earned $120,000 after running 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.09. Saint Vigeur plodded up for second, with Go Get the Basil third and 5-2 favorite Abraham fourth.
It was Freedom Child's first race since being declared a non-starter April 6 in the Wood Memorial because the starter was holding his bridle as the gates opened. "If he'd run well there, we would have gone to the Derby,'' Finley said, "and he would have been caught up in that killer pace. So there's a reason for everything, and now we get to go to the Belmont.''
No horse has completed the Peter Pan-Belmont double since A.P. Indy in 1992, but when you win by that much, you start dreaming. "I hope Orb runs well in the Preakness and the whole world is watching the Belmont,'' Finley said, "and I hope we have a chance to upset the apple cart.''
Mylute, Napravnik in Preakness. Trainer Tom Amoss announced that Mylute, fifth for Rosie Napravnik in the Derby, will run in Saturday's Preakness. Napravnik, 25, began her career in Maryland in 2004. She'll be only the third female rider in the race's 138 runnings, joining Patti Cooksey (sixth, 1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (seventh, 1994).
Saturday, Napravnik tweeted: "Get your PREAK ON, baby, I'm coming home! I promise you there is no other jockey who wants to win the Preakness more than me . . . OK, maybe Rosario, but I bet it's just been added to his list recently haha.''
That would be Joel Rosario, Orb's rider.
In other Preakness news: Orb galloped 1½ miles on a muddy track at Belmont . . . Trainer Greg Geier withdrew Illinois-based Street Spice, who would have been at least 40-1 . . . Trainer Chad Brown said no decision had been made on Normandy Invasion. Rudy Rodriguez said he and Vyjack's owner, David Wilkenfeld, will "wait until the last minute."