The stakes action this Memorial Day weekend at the track of the lakes and flowers starts off on Saturday with the Grade 2 American Handicap. This race used to be run on the other national holiday of the Spring, Fourth of July until recently. But with the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile being shifted to that weekend, this race took its place on the calendar as a prep for that race. This mile on the grass brought together a diverse group of runners, some foreign-born and some domestic. This race has a nice mix of established runners and newcomers to the stakes level. Let's get to the action, starting with the morning line favorite.
Mr. Commons looks to rebound after failing as the favorite in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita on the Big Cap undercard. He has worked steadily for this race for the last two months for this race after taking a couple of weeks off to refresh himself. His trainer John Shirreffs has said that this is a prep for the Shoemaker, so it is possible that he could not be fully cranked for the race. Mr. C has run well of similar layoffs, winning both times off similar layoffs. He figures to get a nice pace set-up in the race with the presence of several speed horses. He has been heavily bet in most of his races, and he once again figures to be a unplayable price, and this blog will play against him in the win spot.
The other Americans who have a chance are Compari, whose rail draw will force this front-runner to commit to making the pace. He comes off a good effort in the G3 San Simeon H last time, with three turf works since the last race. Calimonco, who has done well at the listed stakes level and run fast enough to win this but has not won in graded stakes company. He finished 4th in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile last time out. He has two solid works since the last race. Mobilized is coming off a smart win in the state-bred Tiznow Stakes. He has done better in extended one-turn races than in two-turn races. He does have two smart works and the trainer was quoted that he entered him instead of another race next week because he was doing so well.
The foreign-born contenders are headed by Tigah (GB). Trained by John Sadler (who also trains Calimonco), Tigah won a 2nd level allowance two races back in nice time. Running an okay 4th off a two month layoff last time out, he comes back 2nd off the layoff, just like his allowance win. He has two solid works since the last race and figures to get a solid pace to run at in here. Barney Rebel (IRE) wired an allowance field last time out across town, running a fast time in the process. Barney gets 8 pounds from the favorite and with his light impost, he will be winging on the front end in attempt to steal the race. Venomous
(GB) looks to return to his first run off the plane last year in the Oak Tree Derby. His trainer has hit for a price with a horse off a similar layoff, with a series of nice works in tow.
Race Analysis: Liberian Freighter is a confirmed need-the-lead type coming off a layoff. His presence ensures that either Compari or Barney Rebel will not get an easy lead, forcing them to rate off the pace. Great Warrior and Calimonco will be in the next flight, with the rest of the runners behind them. It figures to be a trip race, where the runner who can find a way through the pack can get up in time over those who take the overland route. Tigah figures to huge the rail and hope it opens up turning for home, and he is the pick. It will be in a tight photo with Calimonco, Venomous and Mr. Commons, who will all be in the fight for the minor awards.
Good luck folks!