John Shirreffs will always be best known as the trainer of Zenyatta but he has also captured the Kentucky Derby with Giacomo and has conditioned numerous other stakes winners including Bertrando, Harmonious, Life Is Sweet, and Tiago. This year, he will attempt to win the Preakness Stakes with late bloomer Mr. Commons.
Don't underestimate sharp trainer John Shirreffs in Preakness - photo by Eclipse sportswire
The Artie Schiller colt owns a solid grass pedigree and after a schooling run in his synthetic sprint bow he dusted promising Julio Canani trainee Akkadian in a downhill turf event at Santa Anita on January 15.
Mr. Commons moved to the Santa Anita main track in his first start versus winners and a victory in that flat mile affair was enough to earn him a shot in the Santa Anita Derby. He rallied from 6th to land the show in the latter event and was briefly considered for the Kentucky Derby but did not have the graded earnings to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.
All of his workouts have occurred at his Hollywood Park home base and his last three seven furlong moves have been geared toward building his stamina. His future probably lies on turf and the 2011 Santa Anita Derby was not the strongest renewal but John Shirreffs is a patient trainer and realistically spots his horses so it might be wise to use Mr. Commons on your Preakness tickets.
Todd Pletcher has a new shooter for the 2011 Preakness and his name is Dance City.
The 3-year-old son of City Zip probably gets much of his stamina from dam sire Pleasant Colony. He landed the place behind subsequent Wood Memorial runner-up Arthur’s Tale in his December bow at Aqueduct and proceeded to win two straight at Gulfstream Park over the winter, beating the likes of stablemate Cal Nation and Bowman’s Causeway.
Dance City shipped to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby and gamely finished 3rd after attending the pace throughout. He showed the ability to come again when passed by Cal Nation and Sway Away in his last pair and that tenacity should serve him well in Baltimore.
The Arkansas Derby has already produced Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro and Peter Pan winner Alternation and Dance City will try to add to the legacy of the Oaklawn Park showcase at Pimlico on Saturday.
Sway Away was 21st on the Kentucky Derby graded earnings list and just missed qualifying for that event. He will have no such problem in Baltimore and looms an interesting Preakness longshot.
The Jeff Bonde trainee has a long winded pedigree but sports the look of a late running sprinter. His short juvenile campaign consisted of a five furlong maiden win at Pleasanton and a place finish behind J P’s Gusto in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar last summer.
He almost ran down The Factor in his San Vicente return and The Factor and Premier Pegasus both came out of that race to capture graded routes. Unfortunately for Sway Away, he lost a tooth in the Rebel Stakes and failed to get involved.
Sway Away fared better in the Arkansas Derby but he raced wide and moved too soon in a better than appears 4th place finish.
He turned in one of the fastest Derby week works with a six furlong bullet in 1:111.60 on the first Saturday in May and breezed the same distance in 1:13.60 on May 14. He projects a mid-pack type trip under Garrett Gomez in the Preakness and is an interesting player if he can handle the added real estate.
Dialed In was the Kentucky Derby favorite but the best he could manage was an 8th place finish due to the slow early fractions. With a bit more pace help the Nick Zito charge might finish fast in Baltimore.
The late striding 3-year-old son of Mineshaft turned heads when he came from the clouds to win his sprint debut at Churchill Downs last fall. He did not disappoint in his eagerly anticipated second outing with a similar late running victory in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January.
Dialed In seeks Preakness pace help - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Nick Zito looked for the best way to bring his colt up to the Florida Derby and found a local allowance prep. Unfortunately, Dialed In got no pace help in a race won by his stablemate but he finished 2nd in that event and proceeded to win the Florida Derby after catching a game Shackleford.
As expected, Dialed In dropped back to 19th and last on the first Saturday in May and his chances were basically over after fractions of :48.63 and 1:13.40. He ended up passing eleven rivals at Churchill and is eligible for for a $5.5 million bonus should he capture the Preakness Stakes. If he gets honest fractions up front he may do just that!
Shackleford was the stretch target in the Kentucky Derby but he could not quite last the ten furlong trip and ended up a respectable 4th. His next start will come in the 2011 Preakness and he looms a pace factor at the very least.
The Dale Romans trainee did not seem to care for synthetic footing in his Keeneland debut last fall and rebounded in a big way to earn his diploma at Churchill Downs second time out.
He wintered in Florida during his 3-year-old season and captured an entry level route before flopping in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He earned a trip to the Kentucky Derby after setting a fast pace and just missing to Dialed In in the Florida Derby.
Shackleford looked great in his Derby training activity but failed to hold on despite setting pedestrian fractions. The Preakness pace will be quicker and he will have to elevate his game if he expects to crack the top three in Baltimore.
Mucho Macho Man will try to turn the tables on Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby show finisher is the youngest member competing in the Triple Crown series this year and what he lacks in maturity he makes up for in talent.
Mucho Macho Man ready for Preakness - photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and trained by Kathy Ritvo, Mucho Macho Man began his career with a couple of underneath sprint finishes in Florida and New York. Route racing did the trick as he coasted to an easy maiden win at Monmouth in his third lifetime start and ended his juvenile campaign with back-to-back runner-up efforts behind To Honor And Serve in the graded ranks at Aqueduct.
His lone off the board finish to date occurred when he dueled and weakened to 4th in the one turn Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park to begin his 3-year-old campaign. He came back in 20-days to capture the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds and threw a shoe in his Louisiana Derby (G2) show finish prior to occupying that same spot on the first Saturday in May.
Much0 Macho Man breezed a four furlong bullet in :49.28 over Belmont Park’s wet training track on May 17th and he figures to sit a decent stalk and pounce trip under Rajiv Maragh in the Preakness Stakes.
Santa Anita Derby hero Midnight Interlude flopped on the first Saturday in May but the Bob Baffert trainee is Preakness bound after a strong work at Churchill Downs on May 16.
The unraced juvenile was a well-beaten 3rd in his dirt sprint debut at Santa Anita in January and showed promise in a flat mile runner-up effort at that same venue second time out. He graduated in style in his next outing and went to the Santa Anita Derby with a puncher’s chance.
He sat behind Comma To The Top in the SA Derby and wore that one down to score at 13-1. He took too much action on the first Saturday in May due to the presence of trainer Bob Baffert and he never got involved and finished 16th.
The son of War Chant breezed a sharp three furlongs in :35.60 at Churchill Downs on Monday and it is all system go for the Preakness.
He figures to sit a cozy tactical trip at Pimlico and will get the services of last year’s winning Preakness pilot Martin Garcia. He would not be the first horse to follow up a Derby dud with a Preakness smasher.