USA: Napravnik strikes again with Mark Valeski

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By Nicholas Godfrey
Racing Post

Belmont Park: Peter Pan Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo

EIGHT days after winning the Kentucky Oaks with Believe You Can, jockey Rosie Naparavnik teamed up again with trainer Larry Jones to take the Peter Pan with Mark Valeski.

Mark Valeski, runner-up in both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds over the winter, bypassed the Kentucky Derby in favour of this Grade 2 trial for the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

He raced well off the rail in mid-division in Saturday’s $200,000 event as longshot Right To Vote cut out some quick fractions.

Four wide turning for home, Mark Valeski picked up the leader at thr furlong pole and kept on willingly for a solid victory by a length and a quarter over a determined Right To Vote with Street Life rallying for third.

Sent off 6-5 favourite, Mark Valeski stopped the clock at 1m48.31 for the 1m1f.

“The horse felt great and did everything right,” said Napravnik. “I was a little worried about all the ground we were losing, but at the same time with the fast pace I didn’t want to tuck in and get stuck behind, because I knew I was on the best horse.

“When I pressed the button, even with all the ground we lost, he was much the best and ran great today. It should set him up very nicely for his next race.”

Jones may now consider the Belmont for the son of Proud Citizen, owned by former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones (no relation).

“We’re going to Churchill with him, and then we’ll see how he comes out and whether we try to come back,” said Larry Jones. “We’re sure not going to rule it out – we know where Belmont is.”

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