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Mexikoma skipping Derby, targeting Peter Pan, Belmont Stakes
Team Valor International has the pulled the plug on preparing Mexikoma for a Kentucky Derby prep race and will focus instead on the final leg of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7.
The dark bay colt came down with a lung infection shortly after a comeback allowance race at Gulfstream Park on February 22, in which he rallied well on a speed carrying surface to finish third. He missed 10 days of training, recovered nicely, and resumed a normal schedule, but Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin decided to re-focus after inspecting the colt Thursday morning.
"Mexikoma is sound," Irwin said. "Soundness is not the issue. The problem with making a Derby prep is that the infection he battled has left his constitution in a depleted state.
"Looking at him just now, I see that his coat has improved 100 percent in just 10 days and gleams with a healthy glow. But standing behind him, I see that the muscle tone he lost during his 15 days of stall confinement has not fully returned.
"In a nutshell, the colt's constitution suffered and has not fully recovered enough for our team of trainer Rick Mettee, exercise rider Shav Aizpuru, Megan Jones and me to send the colt out for a breeze this weekend with any sort of confidence that the move would not set him back."
Irwin and Mettee decided on a game plan to prepare Mexikoma for the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan on May 10 as a lone prep for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes.
"The time between the Peter Pan and Belmont Stakes is one month, which is good spacing," Irwin declared. "What I like about the Peter Pan is it gives the colt that all-important race over the track."
Mexikoma currently owns a 4-1-0-1 record with $28,100 in lifetime earnings. The Florida-bred dropped his initial start at Saratoga last July, finishing seventh on the Spa's turf, before showing up at Delaware Park in September to break his maiden by 14 3/4 lengths over the main track.
He closed out his juvenile season with a sixth-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, beaten fourth lengths after running in the rear early. A third in the aforementioned Gulfstream race began the colt's sophomore campaign.
Mexikoma is by Birdstone, who spoiled Smarty Jones' 2004 Triple Crown bid when taking the Belmont by a length over that rival, and was represented by a son, Summer Bird, who scored his first stakes win in the 2009 Belmont and went on to sweep the Grade 1 Travers and Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup before closing out his career with a nice fourth behind Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic.