Before the largest crowd in Del Mar history – 46,588, even-money
favored Mr. Commons and jockey Mike Smith breezed to an impressive
victory in the featured $112,100 Oceanside Stakes Wednesday on
opening-day of the 72nd summer season of Thoroughbred racing “where the turf meets the surf.”
Outrun in the early stages of the one-mile grass race for
three-year-olds, Mr. Commons, a handsome son of Artie Schiller, circled
his rivals on the stretch turn and wasn’t pressured in the final
sixteenth as he won by 1 1/2 lengths. Final time was 1:34.96, with the
winner running his final furlong in less than 12 seconds.
Burns, an 11-1 longshot ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, ran well to be
second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of third-place Extensive, with Robbie’s War
fourth in the field of nine.
Withdrawn from the original line-up were Chosen Miracle, Saddleranch, Anakin, Every Ego and Dr. Green.
Mr. Commons, owned and bred by the St. George Farm Racing, LLC of Ian
and Carrie Banwell of Charlotte, North Carolina and trained by John
Shirreffs, returned $4.20, $3.60 and $2.60 while earning first money of
$67,260 with his third victory in six starts. Burns returned $8 and
$4.80, while Extensive returned $3.60 to show.
In his previous race, Mr. Commons finished a non-threatening eighth
behind Shackleford in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. The Oceanside
Stakes marked the colt’s return to the grass surface over which he broke
his maiden last January at Santa Anita.
Wednesday’s attendance exceeded the record set a year ago on opening
day when 45,309 turned out. Total pari-mutuel handle Wednesday was
$13,234,590 compared to the ten-race program a year ago when $12,461,60
was wagered, an increase of 6.2%.