A short field of five, three of which are graded stakes winners, will go postward in the April 16 Commonwealth Stakes (gr. II). The $175,000 race for 3-year-olds and up is one of the three graded stakes leading up to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and is slated for 4:27 p.m. EDT.
Wise Dan, the only horse in the field to have previously won a graded stakes at Keeneland, doesn’t have as big of a bankroll as some of his other Commonwealth rivals, but the fact he already has a victory of that caliber at the Lexington track makes him stand out from the rest.
The son of Wiseman's Ferry has won four of his six races and earned $187,910. He recorded his major victory in last year’s Phoenix (gr. III) for trainer Charles Lopresti and owner/breeder Morton Fink. The Commonwealth will mark the 2011 debut of Wise Dan, who has been sidelined since last November when he won an allowance optional claiming contest at Churchill Downs. Before that, he was sixth, but beaten just 2 1/2 lengths in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I).
Bred in Kentucky, Wise Dan is out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle. Julien Leparoux will ride the gelding, who has been working steadily at Keeneland, most recently covering five furlongs in 1:00 2/5.
Seeking his first graded stakes victory in the Commonwealth is Aikenite , who was most recently second in an allowance optional claiming contest at Gulfstreatm Park March 5. The 4-year-old son of Yes It's True has been graded stakes-placed four times, including a second in the 2009 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and a third in that year’s Three Chimney’s Hopeful at Saratoga (both gr. I).
Campaigned by Cot Campbell’s Dogwood Stable, Aikenite is trained by Todd Pletcher. He will retain the services of jockey John Velazquez, who has ridden the colt in his last five starts. The pair will break from the rail.
Bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm, Aikenite is out of the Saint Ballado mare Silverlado. In his most recent work, he covered four furlongs in :47 4/5 at Churchill Downs April 10.
Also looking to pose a threat is Le Grand Cru, a three-time graded stakes winner on the New York circuit. The 6-year-old son of Dynaformer will attempt to snap a six-race losing streak in the Commonwealth. Trained by Ronny Werner for Michael Stinson, Le Grand Cru scored his most recent victory in the 2010 Westchester Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park.
Boasting a career record of 5-3-3 from 24 starts, Le Grand Cru has earned $480,828. In the Commonwealth, which will mark his first time on a synthetic surface, he will be ridden by Jamie Theriot. The jockey has been aboard in Le Gran Cru's last two starts: a third and a fifth, respectively in the Jan. 22 Gaudin Memorial and the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III), both at Fair Grounds.
Cool Bullet, who like Le Grand Cru will be making his first start at Keeneland, has won stakes at Monmouth Park, Fair Grounds, and Turfway Park the last two years. Trained by Steve Margolis for Winmore and Robert and Lawana Low, he has a career record of 4-3-1 from 14 starts, for earnings of $190,021. In his only start of 2011, Cool Bullet was second by 1 1/4 lengths in the Jan. 29 Forego Stakes at Turfway Park.
Completing the field is Taqarub, who will attempt to rebound from two unplaced efforts this year in graded stakes company at Laurel Park and Gulfstream. The son of Aldebaran, who won the 2010 Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Pimlico, is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Shadwell Stable.
$175,000 Commonwealth Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 4:27 p.m.) 3YO and up, seven furlongs (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Aikenite, J R Velazquez, 118, T A Pletcher
2. Wise Dan, J R Leparoux, 118, C Lopresti
3. Le Gran Cru, J Theriot, 118, R W Werner
4. Cool Bullet (FL), S Bridgmohan, 118, S Margolis
5. Taqarub, A Garcia, 118, K P McLaughlin