2018 Commonwealth Turf Preview

The Commonwealth Turf Stakes (G3) is one of the last chances for three-year-old lawnmowers to compete against their own age group.  Inaugurated in 2004, it has always been run at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass, and has held a Grade 3 status since 2008.

2010 Commonwealth Turf winner Yankee Fourtune, sniffing for carrots from his pasture at Old Friends. (Photo: Nicolle Neulist)

2010 Commonwealth Turf winner Yankee Fourtune, sniffing for carrots from his pasture at Old Friends. (Photo: Nicolle Neulist)

In 2010, Yankee Fourtune earned his first graded stakes victory right here at Hawthorne, when he held two and a half lengths clear of Mister Marti Gras to win the Hawthorne Derby (GIII).  Next out, he won his second in the Commonwealth Turf, where he held safe from Guys Reward to win by a length.  Two other horses have run in the Hawthorne Derby and then won the Commonwealth Turf Stakes.  Both of them checked in third at 35th and Cicero before winning this race at Churchill: Arbuckle Bandit (2006) and Lea (2012).

A pair of other locals have made their names in the Commonwealth Turf, as well.  Tom Proctor trainee Therecomesatiger (2005) had broken his maiden earlier that year at Arlington, and returned there his four-year-old summer to upset Fort Prado in the Sea O Erin Breeders' Cup Handicap.  Hay Dakota (2016), for local trainer Joel Berndt, tightened the screws with an allowance win at Hawthorne before posting a 29/1 shock in the Commonwealth Turf.

Selections are made for turf only.

Race 10: Commonwealth Turf Stakes (G3), three-year-olds, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 5:36pm EST

Trainer Steve Asmussen comes into the Commonwealth Turf with a pair of live ones.  This space is going to go for the minor upset with the Asmussen "B", RERIDE.  The son of Candy Ride was beaten in a washed-off allowance last out, leading most of the way before being run down by Roaming Union.  Perhaps he sends from the inside and tries to take it gate to wire in the Commonwealth.  But, if MARZO guns it from the 2 hole?  No problem.  RERIDE has some tactical speed, and has even been able to work out rate-and-rally trips from the rail draw.  Finally, with rain in the forecast through Thursday night and Friday, it is a positive that RERIDE has a win over soft turf last year.  It won't likely be as boggy -- but there should still be some cut, playing to his favour.

Drawn on the far outside is the other Asmussen, HOT SPRINGS.  He is a fast horse with tactical speed, and he has emerged a horse for the Churchill lawn.  He is a perfect three-for-three lifetime over the course, including a victory at this distance.  All of those victories have come with jockey Ricardo Santana in the irons; Santana returns for this.  HOT SPRINGS should also be fit and ready for this; he comes third off a break, and both his previous outings since the layoff have been at nine furlongs.  The only question for HOT SPRINGS is the turf condition; he has never tried turf rated worse than good, so depending on how much it rains and how windy (or not) it is, the footing may be a new test.  But, this looks the most logical spot for HOT SPRINGS, and it would be no surprise to see him do well.

MARCH TO THE ARCH gets a bit of a class break for this.  He didn't embarrass himself out east, rallying for a close fourth last out in the Hill Prince (G2), and before that capturing a close third in the Saranac (G3).  Though both of those races were nine furlongs, and that looks to be MARCH TO THE ARCH's best distance, he has finished a close second both times he tried today's mile and a sixteenth distance.  He has also shown himself to be a closer who can kick on even if the pace in front of him is not torrid -- a must, given the short field and the fact that the pace does not look like it will fall apart.

Selections:

#1 RERIDE (4/1)

#7 HOT SPRINGS (2/1)

#4 MARCH TO THE ARCH (5/2)

Longshot:  Stop me if you've heard this one: Albin Jimenez steals a race with a longshot from Ben Colebrook's shedrow.  Okay, I could be talking about Knicks Go in the Breeders' Futurity (G1).  But, that isn't out of the realm of possibility in the Commonwealth Turf either, with #2 MARZO (12/1).  Though RERIDE, the only one inside of him, has shown some speed?  MARZO is sharper early if he wants to be, and RERIDE has rated from a rail draw before.  Though this is a class test for MARZO, and he has to step up if he wants to beat these types?  The Churchill turf can be speed-friendly when it is wet.  If he takes to that footing, that could carry him a long way in this short field.

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