Churchill Downs’ News: Spectacular Gem Headlines Field for Saturday’s G3 Commonwealth Turf

(Spectacular Gem winning at Churchill Downs / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team:

Candie Baker’s $125,000 Jefferson Cup winner Spectacular Gem drew post position No. 6 in an over-subscribed field of 14 horses who will take to the Matt Winn Turf Course in Saturday’s 16th running of the $175,000 Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.Run at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds, the Commonwealth is carded as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race program with a scheduled post time of 5:36 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 1 p.m.

Spectacular Gem, trained by Jimmy Baker, led wire-to-wire in the Jefferson Cup under jockey James Graham. The son of Can the Man finished first in his last two starts but was disqualified at odds of 36-1 two races ago in the $200,000 Caesars Stakes at Indiana Grand because of interference in late stretch. Graham has the return call in the Commonwealth.

The three horses who finished behind Spectacular Gem in the Jefferson Cup – Calumet Farm’s Tracksmith, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Faraway Kitten and Evelyn and Darnell Yatesand Kevin Kuta’s Clint Maroon (GB) – are all entered in Commonwealth Turf.

Another rival in the Commonwealth is Rick, Donna and Jeff Awtrey’s multiple stakes winner Marquee Prince. Trained by Brad Cox, Marquee Prince enters the Commonwealth following a three-quarters of a length score in a conditioned allowance event at Indiana Grand. Tyler Gaffalione has the call from post 5.

Other notable entrants in the Commonwealth Turf: Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins’ $125,000 Ontario Derby (GIII) runner-up Armistice Day; Gulliver Racing, Craig Drager and Dan Legan’s $300,000 Super Derby (GIII) third-place finisher Pirate’s Punch; and Bronte Marshall’s $50,000 Robert Dupret Derby winner Tiz Plus, who will attempt to give trainer Steve Asmussen his second Commonwealth win in a row.

The complete field for the Commonwealth Turf from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and weight): Tobacco Road (Alex Achard, John Ennis, 118 pounds); Osage Moon (Miguel Mena, Mark Casse, 118); Clint Maroon (Channing Hill, Wayne Catalano, 120); Pirate’s Punch (Robby Albarado, Grant Forster, 118); Marquee Prince (Gaffalione, Cox, 120); Spectacular Gem (Graham, Baker, 120); Tracksmith (Brian Hernandez Jr., Joe Sharp, 120); Tiz Plus (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen, 118); Knicks Go (Gabriel Saez, Ben Colebrook, 118); Armistice Day (Corey Lanerie, Barbara Minshall, 120); Mr Dumas (Joe Rocco Jr., John Ortiz, 118); Louder Than Bombs (Alex Canchari, David Fawkes, 118); Faraway Kitten (Julien Leparoux, Mike Maker, 123); and Journeyman (Declan Cannon, Eoin Harty, 118). Should any late scratches occur, the following horses could draw into the field: Proliferate (Chris Landeros, Casse, 118); and Clear Vision (Cannon, Jerry O’Dwyer, 118).

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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