Mr. Commons returns from a layoff of nearly three months to face 10 opponents in the $150,000 American Handicap (gr. II) on the Betfair Hollywood Park turf May 26.
Trained by John Shirreffs for Ian Banwell's St. George Racing, Mr. Commons has not been out since losing the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. I) by a neck as the 4-5 choice at Santa Anita Park March 3.
Mr. Commons began the Santa Anita meet with victories in the Sir Beaufort (gr. IIT) and Arcadia (gr. IIT) stakes while favored in both. The 4-year-old son of Artie Schiller drew post 10 and was assigned top weight of 122 pounds in the American, which was shortened to a mile last year after previously being contested at nine furlongs. Mike Smith will once again be aboard.
In the Kilroe, Mr. Commons came from off the pace, as usual, but was forced to wait in traffic at the quarter pole before unleashing his late turn of foot in the lane. In spite of a fast finish, he could not catch the unheralded Willyconker in time.
Since Shirreffs switched Mr. Commons to the turf full time last July at Del Mar, the bay colt has finished first or second in six of seven races, missing the exacta only in the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I), where he was fifth. Mr. Commons owns a lifetime mark of 5-3-1 in 12 starts with earnings of $623,660.
Mr. Commons drilled five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 at Hollywood May 19.
The biggest threat to Mr. Commons in the American, which is the eighth race at Hollywood with a 4:40 p.m. PDT post, figures to come from Compari.
Trained by Marty Jones for California owners/breeders Harris Farms, Donald Valpredo, and John Nicoletti, Compari ran third in the Kilroe after pressing the pace and taking the lead in the stretch. He returned to run third in the San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) as the favorite on the hillside turf course April 21. The 6-year-old son of Redattore drew the rail and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano.
Liberian Freighter would also be a threat if he's ready off of a layoff of nearly 11 months. The 7-year-old trained by Neil Drysdale won the Arcadia and Hollywood's Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) in back-to-back efforts last year, as well as the California Cup Mile and Oak Tree Mile (gr. IIT) on the Hollywood turf in 2010.
The Bertrando gelding worked five furlongs on the Hollywood grass in :59 4/5 May 18. He leads the field in earnings with $736,740 while compiling a 10-2-6 mark in 29 races.
John Sadler, winner of the 2008 American with Whatsthescript, sends out Calimonco, most recently fourth April 28 in the San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT) at Golden Gate Fields. Marty Wygod and Ballena Vista Farms' 6-year-old son of Storm Cat won Santa Anita's one-mile Sidd Finch prior to that.
Venomous has been given a freshening by Leonard Powell since finishing fifth behind Mr. Commons in the Sir Beaufort Dec. 26. Second in his United States debut in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) last October, the British-bred 4-year-old ran third in the 2011 French Two Thousand Guineas (Fr-I).
The Red Ransom colt has been working solidly at Hollywood for his return, most recently clocking five furlongs on the Cushion Track in :59 3/5 May 18.
Mobilized, from the Gary Mandella barn, rallied from dead last to thump his California-bred rivals by 7 1/4 lengths in the Tiznow Stakes on California Gold Rush Day over the Cushion April 28. The 6-year-old son of Soul of the Matter has just one win in nine starts on turf.
$150,000 American Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 4:40 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Compari (CA), R Bejarano, 118, M F Jones
2. Wilkinson (KY), M A Pedroza, 114, J Mullins
3. Calimonco (KY), A Quinonez, 116, J W Sadler
4. Great Warrior (BRZ), J Valdivia Jr., 113, A C Avila
5. Tigah (GB), J Rosario, 113, J W Sadler
6. Soul Candy (CA), V Espinoza, 113, J M Cassidy
7. Barney Rebel (IRE), E Flores, 114, D Blacker
8. Mobilized (CA), G K Gomez, 116, G Mandella
9. Liberian Freighter (CA), M Garcia, 117, N D Drysdale
10. Mr. Commons (KY), M E Smith, 122, J A Shirreffs
11. Venomous (GB), J Talamo, 116, L Powell