2023 Man o' War Stakes & Peter Pan Odds and Picks

The spotlight shines on the Belmont Park lawn on Saturday, when the G1 2023 Man o’ War Stakes brings together old favourites Red Knight and Channel Maker to take on British shipper Warren Point over a distance of ground. The undercard is on the main track and leads with the G3 Peter Pan, in which Brad Cox and Todd Pletcher hold plenty of aces, while last year’s G3 Runhappy winner Drafted bids for back-to-back scores in the big sprint.

Preakness Stakes Odds

Man o’ War Stakes

G1, $600,000, 1m 3f turf, 4yo+, 3.07pm ET

Godolphin wins major races around the world with breathtaking regularity – four G1s in three days last weekend – and it bids to keep the streak rolling in the 2023 Man o’ War Stakes, the highlight of a New York Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park.

Its transatlantic representative is the lightly raced Warren Point (9-5), who has never been off the board in eight starts and showed he was ready for the big league when runner-up in a seven-figure stakes in Bahrain in February. Racing in Bahrain is not particularly strong but this 12-furlong contest was an exception, as it was won by a Hong Kong G1 winner with Warren Point just a half-length behind, after suffering a difficult trip that left him playing catch-up in the final quarter-mile.

Warren Point is progressive and this in-between distance will suit him well. It’s still a hike in class and the horse who beat him in Bahrain is winless in three starts since, but his presence indicates that he’s considered up to the task.

The majority of his rivals come on from the G2 Elkhorn over a mile and a half at Keeneland last month won by Verstappen (6-1), who made his stakes breakthrough with a career-best, hanging tough on the lead as a 16-1 longshot to win by a head after a duel with Red Knight (7-2), who had every chance but couldn’t get past. Channel Maker (6-1) faded into fourth, three and a half lengths further back; Howe Street (8-1) finished sixth, beaten another two lengths; Value Engineering (12-1) was last of eight.

How might it be different this time? It’s possible that Verstappen is moving up fast, and with three wins from his last four starts (the others at Turfway Park) he’s certainly on the crest of a wave.

The old-timers Red Knight and Channel Maker – who won this race in 2019 – don’t have any improvement left, but Red Knight in particular holds his form well and won the G3 William L. McKnight over a mile and a half at Gulfstream Park on his previous start, beating his barnmate Value Engineering by a length with Channel Maker a weary seventh.

He’s a threat, as is Value Engineering, who next time out took down the G2 Mac Diarmida back at Gulfstream over today’s distance; he simply threw in a rare clunker in the Elkhorn. The incredibly lightly raced Howe Street was making his stakes debut in the Elkhorn and was favourite on the back of an impressive allowance win, so he could get back on the upward trend now that the blinkers come off.

Since immigrating from France Soldier Rising (5-1) is two-for-three in allowances and zero-for-eight in stakes, but he has shown a dash of class and three starts ago was third in the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga, beaten only a length. He does tend to get well behind in his races, though, which will always be a negative. Strong Tide (20-1) seems to have no speed at all and won’t figure today.

2023 Man o’ War Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

He is enjoying a late-life flourish and RED KNIGHT can flip the form with Verstappen from his previous start and make his breakthrough at G1 level.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Red KnightIrad Ortiz, Jr.+350
Warren Point (GB)Lanfranco Dettori+180
Channel MakerJoel Rosario+600
VerstappenDeclan Cannon+600
Howe StreetFlavien Prat+800
Soldier Rising (GB)Jose L. Ortiz+500
Strong TideFlorent Geroux+2000
Value EngineeringManuel Franco+1200

Peter Pan Stakes

The Peter Pan is notionally a prep for the G1 Belmont, but only one horse has completed the double in the last 30 years and this year’s field doesn’t contain a previous Graded-stakes winner.

Brad Cox loads both barrels and his best chance is Bishops Bay (8-5), unbeaten in two and making his stakes debut here. Those victories came at the Fair Grounds, maiden then an allowance over a mile, in which he showed willing and strength to hold on to his lead by a neck. The extra yardage today should be a positive and we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

His barnmate Slip Mahoney (4-1) is more seasoned, having run second in a bad race for the G3 Gotham and then a distant sixth in the mile-eighth G2 Wood Memorial, both at Aqueduct. He was expected to do better there as third-choice, but didn’t have a great trip and could certainly rebound; he’s also entered at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

One place and a length and three-quarters ahead of him was Classic Catch (9-2), who was on his stakes debut and rallied from the back of the field to be nearest at the finish. The Wood runner-up Hit Show was fifth in the Kentucky Derby, so the form stands up and there is likely more to come from Classic Catch – the first-time blinkers should help.

His (new) barnmate Go Soldier Go (8-1) is a true wildcard on his debut Stateside after going two-for-six in the UAE Derby. He got up late to win a stakes over a mile and three-sixteenths before finishing 15 lengths fifth behind Derma Sotogake in the G2 UAE Derby, when he made no show whatsoever. It’s almost impossible to rationalise his prospects here, although the switch to a top-rank trainer – who has won this race a record four times – could move him up.

Summer Cause (10-1) turned in a promising performance on his stakes debut over a mile-eighth at Laurel Park last time, third beaten a length and a half by Preakness prospect Perform, although he didn’t show a great deal of kick at the business end. He’s preferred to Henry Q (8-1), who has his first start for Doug O’Neill after running a flat third in a weak G3 Sunland Park Derby behind two longshots.

Shug McGaughey has won the Peter Pan twice and relies on easy Gulfstream Park maiden winner Game Change (20-1), who ran a shocker next time when last of six in an allowance at the same track, a city block behind the aforementioned Classic Catch. This may be too much too soon, while fellow Gulfstream maiden winner Arcangelo (10-1) and Aqueduct maiden winner Asmodeus (15-1) – who could be a pace angle – need to find considerable improvement just to get in the mix.

2023 Peter Pan Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

There isn’t much solid form here but CLASSIC CATCH ran well on his stakes debut – not far behind Kentucky Derby fifth Hit Show – and can move up again.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
ArcangeloJavier Castellano+1000
Slip MahoneyJoel Rosario+400
Game ChangeJose L. Ortiz+2000
Summer CauseManuel Franco+1000
Classic CatchIrad Ortiz, Jr.+450
Go Soldier GoFlavien Prat+800
AsmodeusTrevor McCarthy+1500
Henry QLanfranco Dettori+800
Bishops BayFlorent Geroux+160

Runhappy Stakes

G3, $175,000, 6f dirt, 4yo+, 5.18pm ET

Only a short field for the Runhappy, but that’s the way it was last year and there must be every chance of the same result, with the veteran Drafted (3-1) having strong credentials to go back-to-back.

He finished his race off well 12 months ago, coming home a length in front of rivals who were of a similar standard to – if not better than – those he faces today, and although midweight sprinters often have a problem with consistency Drafted bears up well on that front, only off the board three times since that success and one of those in a G1.

He can be forgiven his effort when sixth in the G3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct in March, as he was bumped and squeezed and generally out of the race before he’d gone a furlong, and he brings a sharp class edge to proceedings.

The quality of this race is not much better than a plain stakes, which gives Candy Man Rocket (7-2) a boost as his last three finishes in Graded company read 11-9-10. He performs well at a lower level, winning a six-furlong stakes at Gulfstream Park in February, and might not be too far away.

Mr Phil (9-2) has won four of his last six starts, his defeats coming at stakes level, and he showed no signs of rustiness when returning from an eight-month layoff to win a six-furlong allowance at Aqueduct three weeks ago, bowling gate-to-wire and defying the late thrust of Stage Left (6-1), who rallied hard from last place but not quite hard enough, to win by a neck.

Stage Left gave that form a big boost when making his stakes breakthrough at Laurel Park over five and a half furlongs next time, and both horses are coming here on a high.

So is Twisted Ride (9-2), on a five-timer after running riot at Parx this year, graduating out of allowances to win two stakes, the first over six furlongs and then stretching out to seven with a gutsy display of front-running, clinging on to his lead to win by a nose with fellow Parx specialist Beren (5-2) third, coming along late and beaten a further three-quarters of a length. If either horse – and Beren won two sprint stakes here in 2021 – can reproduce that form away from Pennsylvania then they can figure.

2023 Runhappy Stakes

Plenty of recent winning form here but DRAFTED should be forgiven defeat in a better race last time and can repeat last year’s victory in this race.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
DraftedJose L. Ortiz+300
BerenIrad Ortiz, Jr.+250
Twisted RideAndy Hernandez+450
Candy Man RocketJunior Alvarado+350
Stage LeftJavier Castellano+600
Mr PhilManuel Franco+450

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