St. George Farm Racing's homebred Mr. Commons rallied wide on the final turn, took command at the stop of the tretch, and pulled away to a 1 1/2-length victory over eight other 3-year-old rivals in the one-mile Oceanside Stakes, the traditional opening-day feature of the 2011 Del Mar race meeting.
Longshot Burns finished second, with Extensive third behind the 11-10 favored Mr. Commons, a Kentucky-bred colt from the first crop by Pauls Mill stallion Artie Schiller out of Joustabout, by Apalachee. Mr. Commons finished third in the Santa Anita Derby and eighth in the Preakness Stakes in his most recent start for trainer John Shirreffs. This was his first stakes victory.
Mr. Commons completed the mile on firm turf in 1:34.96.
“He broke a little show, but sometimes those things are a blessing in disguise,” said jockey Mike Smith. “If he breaks real sharp he can get real keen. But today he just settled and went about it all real easy. I rode him like I was on the best horse. The name of this game is to give the best horse the best trip and that's what we got today. There's no doubt he's a nice horse. In fact, he reminds me of a really nice horse I rode named Lure. He won the Breeders' Cup (Mile) back to back (1992-'93).”
Said Shirreffs: “He's a very versatile horse and he's run well on the dirt, but he was outstanding on the grass when he broke his maiden (January 15 at Santa Anita), so we wanted to go back to something we knew he would like … It's wonderful to win at Del Mar opening day or not opening day… This is the race we decided to go in when we decided not to go in the mile race at Hollywood Park (Tsunami Slew on June 17) … We'll wait and see about his next race (La Jolla Handicap or Del Mar Derby). “
The win in the Oceanside was the first ever for both Smith and Shirreffs. It was Smith's 33rd stakes tally at Del Mar and Shirreffs 14th. Mr. Commons owners – St George Farm Racing – is the nom du course for Ian and Carrie Banwell of Charlotte, N.C. They were not in attendance.
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