ELMONT, N.Y. – Centennial Farms’ Unified surged to the lead heading into the stretch and then held off a late challenge from Governor Malibu to win Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.
The victory was the third in as many starts and second in a graded stake for the bay son of Candy Ride, who won the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct Racetrack in April in front-running fashion.
With Jose Ortiz aboard for the 1 1/8-mile race, Unified ran comfortably in third behind longshot Singleton, who took the field of eight through fractions of 23.32 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.38 for the half. Moving past Supah Czech on the turn, Unified put away Singleton after brief tussle and opened up by as many as three lengths, with plenty left to hold off the oncoming Governor Malibu by three-quarters of a length.
“I thought I had it [won] but the last couple jumps, he felt the other horse and he got pretty good, very good,” said Ortiz of Unified, who as the 1-2 favorite returned $3.10 for a $2 win bet. “When I asked him to go, he was there.”
Unified’s winning time was 1:47.14.
With the colt’s victories coming at six furlongs, seven furlongs and now 1 1/8 miles, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said he was pleased with Unified’s rapid development.
“We wanted to give him a little test,” said Jerkens of Unified, who has earned $324,000. “We didn’t have to completely turn him around [because] it was one turn. He’s got quality. We trained him hard for this race, and he took it like a man. He didn’t miss an oat. He actually looks like he’s carrying more flesh than he did when he ran the last time. Only the good ones do that.”
While Governor Malibu’s trainer, Christophe Clement, said he would consider the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 11 for the colt’s next start, Jerkens was non-committal.
“I don’t know [about the Belmont],” said Jerkens. “There would have to be a lot of horses going by the wayside for that to happen. But you’d be an idiot nowadays to rule anything out, because things change overnight. It’s improbable, but not impossible.”
Finishing third, 2 ½ lengths behind Governor Malibu, was Wild About Deb, with Adventist checking in fourth. Decorated Solider, Singleton, Lost Iron and Supah Czech completed the order of finish.