The defection of Congaree from Saturday's Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, opens the race up a bit wider for its six entrants. After all, Congaree, who was taken out of consideration after a bout of colic, is a multiple graded stakes winner whose victories include the Carter Handicap (gr. I). Like the Carter, the Commonwealth will be contested at seven furlongs.
The probable favorite is now Lion Tamer, a 4-year-old son of Will's Way coming into the race off a win in the Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship Handicap (gr. II). Richter Scale won the 2000 edition of the Commonwealth, and the race at Gulfstream Park which now bears his name is also run at seven furlongs.
Lion Tamer has two starts and two wins at seven furlongs this year, plus a six-length victory in last year's Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II), another seven-furlong race. Todd Pletcher trains the colt for owner Michael Tabor.
Another horse in the race has connections to Tabor. Marino Marini, a $1.8 million yearling purchase by Demi O'Byrne, previously raced in Europe for Tabor and Sue Magnier. Last year he was brought to the United States and last fall Tom Clark privately purchased the son of Storm Cat
and millionaire Halo America. Doug O'Neill now trains Marino Marini for Clark's Rancho San Miguel. In his last two starts, Marino Marini finished fifth in the Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) in February, and second in the San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) in March.
Bob and Beverly Lewises' colt, Scrimshaw, is making his third April trip to Kentucky. The Lewises bought the son of Gulch
for $550,000 at Keeneland's 2002 April sale of 2-year-olds in training. The following year he returned to the track to win the Coolmore Lexington Stakes by three lengths. Now he returns for what will be his first start this year. Scrimshaw, who is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, hasn't raced since finishing sixth in the seven-furlong King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
The $250,000 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Stakes is Keeneland's fifth race on the April 10 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) undercard.
The field from the rail out with jockey (weight), and trainer:
1--Marino Marini, David Flores (118), Doug O'Neill
2--Saint Waki, Craig Perret (118), Pete Vestal
3--Scrimshaw, Edgar Prado (118), D. Wayne Lukas
4--Lion Tamer, Mike Smith (122), Todd Pletcher
5--Private Horde, Jason Lumpkins (120), Joseph Cain
6--Christine's Outlaw, Robby Albarado (118), George Weaver