News and STORIES
Country Grammer Outruns Field in Peter Pan
Author: Don Mckee
Published: Friday July 17, 2020
Paul Pompa Jr.'s Country Grammer was able to outrun the field and win Thursday's $100,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Saratoga Race Course. With the victory, he moves up the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
The Peter Pan was Country Grammer's second effort in graded company. The son of Tonalist broke well under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and sat in fourth behind leaders Mo Hawk, Celtic Striker, and Caracaro.
Mo Hawk, with jockey Joel Rosario aboard, moved up to the front of the field and set easy fractions of :23.24 and :48.13 through the half-mile. They ran along the rail while being followed by Celtic Striker, who recovered after a bad break to press the pace in second.
Caracaro and jockey Javier Castellano were two lengths behind Celtic Striker, who was racing in the two path after coming off the first turn.
Mo Hawk held a one-length lead as six furlongs went in 1:12.35. As they exited the far turn, he began to drift and was challenged by Caracaro. As Caracaro pushed forward, he was followed to the front by Country Grammer, who ran through a gap between the leaders and picked up momentum going into the lane.
Country Grammer kept closing the distance to the lead through the stretch, eventually drawing even as there was a final eighth-mile left to go. The pair were tied while approaching the wire, but Country Grammer was able to move forward and take a slim lead.
Caracaro kept pushing but came up just a neck short, and the final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:49.79 on a track rated fast.
"Irad gave him a beautiful ride," trainer Chad Brown said. "He took advantage of his inside post. He trains that way, and he's a bit of a grinder. He's a long-distance horse, and we've been wanting to get him back out to a mile and an eighth."
"He's a fighter," Ortiz said. "He has a great trainer, and he has something left at the end. Chad's horses finish really good. I never gave up, and I was lucky he came back."
Castellano was proud of Caracaro's runner-up finish and spoke on the horse's potential.
"I had a beautiful trip," Castellano said. "I like the way it set up. My horse usually likes to go to the lead and tries to dictate the pace. He broke a little sideways out of the gate. I decided not to rush and put him in the lead, and just let him develop himself.
"I think he got tired the last part of the race — he hadn't run in such a long time. I'm very satisfied with how he did it today. He was only beat a little bit, and I'm not disappointed at all. I'm excited for his future."
The rest of the field followed with Mystic Guide moving up late to finish third, followed by Celtic Striker, Modernist, Chestertown, Candy Tycoon, Mo Hawk, and Katzarelli to complete the order.
Country Grammer was bred in Kentucky by Scott and Debbie Pierce out of the Forestry mare Arabian Song. He was a $450,000 purchase by Bradley Thoroughbreds, agent, from the consignment of Wavertree Stables to the Ocala Breeders; Sales Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.
The colt came into the Peter Pan following a third-place effort in a June 4 allowance race at Belmont Park.
"This horse has never really trained good at Belmont," Brown said. "We ran him there because that's where he was, but he just didn't like the track that much. He had a nice work over the track here (at Saratoga) last week, and we were optimistic he was going to run much better.
According to Brown, a possible next target for the colt is the Aug. 8 Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1).