Today's Peter Pan Stakes was designed as a prep race for the Belmont Stakes. It turned out to be more of an elimination heat.
Comptroller captured the $56,800 event at Belmont Park by 1 1/4 lengths over Bar Dexter, but his time of 1:49 1/5 for the mile and one eighth suggested that neither Codex nor Genuine Risk is going to have to worry much about him on June 7.
And they certainly won't have to worry much about Ben Fab, who until today had been considered a promising late bloomer among the nation's 3-year-olds. Ben Fab had won four straight races, three on the grass, emboldening his owner to put up the supplementary nomination for the Belmont last week.
Be Fab made that money look like a ridiculous investment, and burned up the money of the people who had made him a 3-to-5 favorite, as he finished fourth without an excuse.
While a group of faint-hearted speedsters battled for the early lead in the Peter Pan, Comptroller stalked them in fourth place, with Ben Fab just behind them. Both colts swung to the outside as they entered the stretch, but while Ben Fab faltered, Comptroller surged into a clear lead and held off Bar Dexter's late rush to score at 10 to 1.
Comptroller was making only the fifth start of his career, and he probably has a long-distance future, but trainer Angel Penna has his doubts about the Belmont.
"He surprised me by running that well," Penna said. "He's improving, but he's developed a little slow." He indicated that Comptroller probably will run next in the Ohio Derby.
Before the Peter Pan, there was a bit of irony on the Belmont program. Angel Cordero, the object of controversy after his ride on Codex in the Preakness, was disqualified after winning the fifth race aboard Ivory Hunter. His number came down after a foul claim by Jacinto Vasquez, who had ridden Genuine Risk in the Preakness.