There was money showing on the board, Richard Englander liked his breeding, and trainer Michael Pino liked his physical appearance. For $50,000, they decided to take a chance on Boston Common.
Fourteen months after taking Boston Common from a rather ordinary lot of maiden claimers at Delaware Park, Englander and Pino have watched the gelding earn more than four times his purchase price. Now a grade I stakes-placed horse, Boston Common has also afforded the mid-Atlantic based Pino a taste of the big time.
On Saturday, Boston Common will break from the gate as the one to catch in the grade II, $150,000 Jerome at a mile. Seven 3-year-olds were entered in the Jerome, one of four graded stakes on the card.
The feature is the grade I, $300,000 Ruffian Handicap.
Races seven through 10 comprise Saturday's $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4. ESPN will offer a replay of the Ruffian and the Jerome on its Sunday telecast (3 p.m. Eastern) that will also include live coverage of the grade I Matron.
A gelding by 1996 Juvenile Champion Boston Harbor, Boston Common raced in the best form of his career this summer, going 1-2-0 in three starts since July Fourth. He defeated grade III competition in Monmouth's Jersey Shore before earning back-to-back placings in Saratoga's grade II Amsterdam and grade I King's Bishop.
Although he was beaten in both Saratoga appearances, the quick-footed Boston Common proved he had one admirable trait that can make a speed horse so very dangerous. That trait is courage. In the Amsterdam, Boston Common was sandwiched between both favorites, Mayakovksy and Greatness, shortly after the opening bell. The threesome battled through wicked fractions of :21 4/5 and :44 3/5, but at crunch time, it was Boston Common who survived the pace war. Nearing the wire, however, it was the perfect-trip winner Listen Here who took the lead en route to a win.
Boston Common was a valiant second. The Aug. 24 King's Bishop provided a similar scenario. Boston Common disposed of pace rival Day Trader after intense opening fractions, but succumbed in the final yards to Gygistar, who is easily the best 3-year-old sprinter in the country.
Saturday, Boston Common will attempt to stretch his speed to a mile, a distance where he is winless in two starts.
"Obviously, he's going to have to go a little slower early on," said Pino of Boston Common, who was defeated by eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem in a mile race in early March at Sportsman's Park.
"Hopefully, we can just get him a breather down the backstretch. We were very proud of him at Saratoga. He did everything, but win. He always put away all the speed horses, but wound up being beaten by perfect trip winners.
"It's a good feeling taking a horse like this off a guy like (D. Wayne) Lukas and doing as well as we have with him."
Jockey Jorge Chavez will have the mount.
The field, in post position order:
Essayons, Edgar Prado, 115
Rum Splasher, Victor Carrero, 114
Puzzlement , Jean-Luc Samyn, 118
Vinemeister, Jose Velez Jr., 114
No Parole, John Velazquez, 115
Dial a Hero, Shaun Bridgmohan, 113
Boston Common, Jorge Chavez , 118