Laugh Track will have to overcome inside post in Commonwealth
t can be fairly said that the Commonwealth Stakes has not been a shining beacon on the Keeneland stakes schedule in recent years.
Once the domain of such top sprinter-milers as Distorted Humor, Richter Scale, and Orientate, the Commonwealth has tended to draw small fields while undergoing a purse decrease and being downgraded a peg to a Grade 3.
But the graph just took a positive jump, as a lineup of 12 older horses should make for an exciting renewal and a terrific wagering event when the $175,000 Commonwealth kicks off stakes action as the first of five straight graded events here Saturday.
Laugh Track, the runner-up in the Phoenix and Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall, will break from the rail with Jose Lezcano aboard as the likely favorite in the seven-furlong Polytrack race, although trainer Mark Casse was only cautiously optimistic about the horse’s chances.
“We’re really excited to run him back over the Poly,” said Casse, “except in his last start, he drew the 1 hole, and it was a killer,” a reference to the Feb. 8 Gulfstream Park Sprint. “I’m not sure how he’ll be able to maneuver out of there this time, but we’ll give it a shot.”
Casse wins third straight Soverign Award, 6th overall
The Champions of 2013 were announced at Friday nights Sovereign Awards ceremony at Woodbine Racetrack.
Trainer Mark Casse won his third consecutive outstanding trainer award, and his sixth overall, and also saw his trainee Sisterly Love capture the older female division after she recorded wins in the Trillium and Grade 3 Ontario Matron stakes.
One of Casse’s top owners, John Oxley, was named outstanding owner for the second consecutive year after leading all owners with nine stakes wins and earnings of just over $2.5 million at Woodbine and Fort Erie in 2013.
Older female – Sisterly Love 123, Part the Seas 71, Moonlit Beauty 42, Madeira Park 21
Outstanding trainer – Mark Casse 144, Reade Baker 54, Malcolm Pierce 25, Nicholas Gonzalez 11
Jacques Cartier Stakes not ideal distance for Delegation
Ron Gierkink, DRF
Most would agree that Delegation is the best horse in Sunday’s $125,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes at Woodbine, but is he vulnerable in the six-furlong dash for older runners?
Delegation found his niche as a front-running router in 2013, when he took the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes by nine lengths with a giant 110 Beyer Speed Figure and the allowance prep for the Eclipse Stakes with a 104 Beyer.
Delegation did run hot and cold last year but had some excuses along the way. He hasn’t started since finishing up the track as the favorite in the Grade 3 Durham Cup Stakes here in October.
“He got hurt in his last start at Woodbine last year,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He had a minor operation. Three-quarters is not really his best game, but he’s come back and trained really well. He’s on target for this weekend.”
Patrick Husbands has the mount on Delegation, a Sovereign Award finalist in the Canadian champion older male division last year.