Seven top sprinters with a hefty 25 stakes wins between them figure to put on quite a show when they battle Saturday in the $400,000 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs at Keeneland.
The Commonweath, the eighth race on a 10-race program that features the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, lured a field of seven--two 4-year-olds and five 5-year-olds. Most of them have won at the seven-furlong distance, including Michael Tabor's Lion Tamer, winner of last year's Commonweath.
Lion Tamer, trained by Todd Pletcher and to be ridden by John Velazquez, has won eight of 16 starts for $803,380 in earnings. Lion Tamer (by Will's Way), made his only start of 2005 in the March 12 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship Handicap (gr. II) at seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, and checked in second behind Sir Shackleton, who's also entered in the Commonwealth.Sir Shackleton, owned by Tracy Farmer and trained by Nick Zito, is two-for-two this year with victories in the Richter Scale and a one-mile allowance event at Gulfstream. With six wins in 11 starts, Sir Shackleton (by Miswaki) is a perfect three-for-three at the Commonwealth distance, with one of those wins having come at Keeneland last spring.Javier Castellano is named to ride Sir Shackleton, winner of last year's West Virginia Derby (gr. III) at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort.The wealthiest member of the field is Padua Stables and John and Joseph Iracane's Cajun Beat, who won the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park and has earned $1,159,100. Cajun Beat (by Grand Slam), with Ramon Dominguez named to ride, went long on the grass in his last start March 5 at Santa Anita and cuts back to what appears a more suitable distance.The deep field is rounded out Leo Nechamkin II's Gators N Bears (by Stormy Atlantic), a New Jersey-bred winner of 10 of 27 starts, six of them stakes; Buckram Oak Farm's Silver Wagon (by Wagon Limit), winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) as a 2-year-old in 2003; Keith McKinney and Jack Sweesy's Gold Storm (by Seeking the Gold), winner of two consecutive six-furlong stakes at Fair Grounds and second in last year's Phoenix Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland; and Overbrook Farm's Clock Stopper (by Gilded Time), third to Sir Shackleton and Lion Tamer in the Richter ScaleThe Commonwealth closed with 18 nominees. Here's the field, with jockeys and weights, in post-position order:1 Sir Shackleton, Javier Castellano, 122 pounds
2 Gators N Bears, Chuck Lopez, 118
3 Silver Wagon, Cornelio Velasquez, 118
4 Cajun Beat, Ramon Dominguez, 118
5 Lion Tamer, John Velazquez, 124
6 Gold Storm, Elvis Perrodin, 120
7 Clock Stopper, Jerry Bailey, 118Post time for the program is 1:10 p.m., with post time for the Commonwealth set at 5:10 p.m. The card includes the $100,000 Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds and up at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass.