Mr. Commons, scheduled to make his
first start since the Preakness, tops a capacity field of 10 three-year-olds,
with four also-eligibles, for the Oceanside Stakes, traditional Opening Day
feature of the Del Mar meeting, on Wednesday.
Trained by John Shirreffs, he of the
2005 Kentucky Derby victory by Giacomo and the sensational three-year campaign
of Zenyatta, Mr. Commons was third in the Santa Anita Derby in April and eighth
behind Shackelford and Animal Kingdom in the Preakness in May. The Artie
Schiller colt, owned by St. George Farm Racing LLC, broke his maiden on the
turf in January at Santa Anita.
Also figuring among the favorites is
Extensive, a shipper from the Midwest for trainer Tom Proctor whose last start
was a third-place finish in the Arlington Classic. The Purge gelding has never
been out of the money, with two wins from five starts on turf.
Trainer Julio Canani will be seeking
his fourth Oceanside victory when he sends out Akkadian, a Tiznow colt owned by
Gary S. Broad. Akkadian finished fourth in his stakes debut in the Affirmed
Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 11. Success in the Oceanside was a precursor
to Horse of the Meeting honors for Canani-trained Ladies Din in 1998 and
Blackdoun in 2004. Silver Circus (1998) is Canani’s other Oceanside winner.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, bound
for induction into racing’s Hall of Fame next month, will saddle Irish-bred
Fort Hastings for his U.S. debut. The Aragorn colt has three wins from five
It is the third year in a row that
the Oceanside has not been split into divisions. Prior to that the only year
the race had not been divided since 1989 was 2005. That ended a run of six
straight years in which there were at least two divisions of the Oceanside. In
2004, it was contested in three divisions.
Horsemen showed their enthusiasm for
the start of Del Mar by entering a total of 106 horses for the opening day
card. A maximum of 96 can run with the remainder ending up on also-eligible
lists due to limits on field size. No race has fewer than eight horses.
"We were pleased with the
support shown through the entry box,” said Tom Robbins, Del Mar’s executive
vice president for racing. “Opening day is always huge, and we're very pleased
with the opening-day card."
Robbins said he was not surprised
that the Oceanside did not receive sufficient entries to split. “We were hoping
to get 16 solid, but came up a little short,” Robbins said. “There is an
allowance race on Friday for those that were left out.”
The Oceanside Stakes is for
3-year-olds who have not won a stakes race worth $50,000 to the winner this
year. It is run at one mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
Nine horses on the Opening Day card
are eligible for the track’s “Ship and Win” program, which rewards owners for
bringing in horses from out of state.
Trainer John Sadler will become the
first horseman to saddle an entry under the program when Kettle Corn, a shipper
from the Illinois circuit for C R K Stable, runs in Wednesday's first race.
Kettle Corn's owner will receive $1,000 for the horse entering the starting
gate and can earn an additional 20 percent of whatever purse money the horse
Five other shippers on today’s card
are similarly eligible for bonus money. Three out-of-staters entered in the
Oceanside do not qualify for bonuses due to an exemption for stakes races.
Beyond Wednesday, there are five
“Ship and Win” eligibles on Thursday and one entered on Friday’s card.