NEW YORK (AP) Unified held off Governor Malibu by three-quarters of a length Saturday in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.
Unified remained unbeaten at 3 for 3 with the victory in the traditional prep for the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown on June 11.
Unified, the 1-2 favorite, was a dazzling winner of his previous two races at shorter distances. The colt and jockey Jose Ortiz were all out to prevail in the Peter Pan at 1 1/8 miles, raising the question of whether the Belmont Stakes at 1 1-2 miles falls within his scope.
Count winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens among the skeptical.
''I don't know about the Belmont,'' Jerkens said. ''There would have to be a lot of horses going by the wayside for that to happen. But you'd be an idiot nowadays to rule anything out because things change overnight. It's improbable, but not impossible.''
Unified, never worse than third, put away the pacesetting Singleton midway on the turn. He dashed clear to a three-length lead at the top of the stretch only to see that margin dwindle as Governor Malibu launched his rally.
The time was 1:47.14.
Unified paid $3.10, $2.70 and $2.20.
Governor Malibu returned $6.70 and $3.80, and Wild About Deb paid $2.80 to show.