Why I'm Betting Intrepid Heart in the Peter Pan Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 9th, 2019

While he’s unlikely to offer much wagering value, I would be surprised if #1 Intrepid Heart is defeated in Saturday’s $300,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.

Everything about this well-bred son of Tapit has caught my eye. Sold for $750,000 as a 2-year-old in training, Intrepid Heart was nominated to the Triple Crown prior to his debut, and I mentioned at the time he could be a perfect fit for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1), for which the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan serves as a prep race.

From a pedigree perspective Intrepid Heart is cut out to win the Belmont. His sire, Tapit, has already sired three winners of 1 1/2-mile classic, and Intrepid Heart’s dam, Flaming Heart. previously produced the 2014 Belmont runner-up Commissioner.

Perhaps because of his pedigree, Intrepid Heart was an odds-on favorite to win his debut going a mile on Feb. 18 at Oaklawn Park, and with top jockey John Velazquez in the saddle, the colt set the pace and pulled away with authority to win by 7 3/4 lengths. Trainer Todd Pletcher then shipped the gray to Keeneland, where Intrepid Heart showed a new dimension, rating in third before rallying with determination down the homestretch to wear down frontrunning High Crime and prevail by a half-length. His late surge earned a solid 100 Brisnet Late Pace rating.

Visually, Intrepid Heart should not have won that Keeneland allowance race. High Crime was running strong on the lead and Intrepid Heart had 2 1/2 lengths to make up in the final furlong, yet somehow he kept grinding away to get the job done. His solid tactical speed and relentless style should be well-suited to the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Peter Pan, and it should serve him even better in the Belmont four weeks from now.

His main challenge in the Peter Pan could come from #3 Global Campaign, a son of Curlin out of an A.P. Indy mare. Trained by Stanley Hough, Global Campaign opened his career with two easy victories at Gulfstream Park before he finished fifth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) behind the classy colts Code of Honor, Bourbon War, Vekoma and Hidden Scroll.

Global Campaign’s effort in the Fountain of Youth disappointed some handicappers, but I thought he ran well under tricky circumstances, making an early move into a hot pace before weakening only slightly in the homestretch to finish 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner. There isn’t as much speed in the Peter Pan, so Global Campaign should sit a perfect trip and have every chance to win.

#5 Final Jeopardy ran into significant traffic trouble during the early stages of the Wood Memorial (G2), so his sixth-place finish is excusable. His eye-catching allowance win going a mile at Gulfstream two starts back is perhaps a more accurate indicator of his ability.

Since Intrepid Heart will be a short price in the wagering, I’ll key him on top of straight exacta and trifecta tickets using Global Campaign for second and Final Jeopardy for third:

$20 exacta: 1 with 3 $10 trifecta: 1 with 3 with 5

Good luck!