09/22/2016 3:30PM

American Patriot capable of rebound in Commonwealth Derby

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Hoofprints Inc.
American Patriot has been a much-improved horse since adding blinkers, including this win in the Grade 3 Kent.

Want to see a big horse attempt to extricate himself from a series of tight spots during a race? Watch the replay of American Patriot racing Aug. 13 in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes. Almost from start to finish, things were tricky for American Patriot, yet he still managed a close third at Arlington, and a similar performance Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Commonwealth Derby at Laurel Park probably will land him in the winner’s circle.

American Patriot is one of 10 entrants in the Commonwealth Derby, one of three Grade 2 turf stakes, along with the Commonwealth Oaks and the Commonwealth Turf Cup, on a strong 11-race program. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern, with the Oaks, race 5, the first of the graded races, which will be run consecutively. The forecast calls for clear skies and warm temperatures, and the course should be firm and fast-playing.

Those conditions suit American Patriot, who showed promise in the spring, threw in a clunker in the American Turf on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, and then came back a changed horse with blinkers added this summer. American Patriot easily won an allowance race over the decent Ray’s The Bar at Belmont in June, comfortably tallied in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park in July, and was beaten three-quarters of a length last month in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat.

“We felt like we might have run the best horse that day,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains American Patriot, a son of War Front, for owner-breeder WinStar Farm. “It wasn’t really anyone’s fault, but he didn’t get the smoothest trip. He came at them late but just couldn’t get started in time.”

Pletcher has kept American Patriot at Saratoga prepping for the Commonwealth Derby. He has worked three times in September and seems as well now as he was five weeks ago. “He’s a straightforward horse to train,” Pletcher said.

:: COMMONWEALTH DERBY: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

Isotherm, drawn in post 10, is the 7-2 morning-line second choice and will race for the first time on Lasix. According to DRF’s Formulator, trainer George Weaver hasn’t started a first-time Lasix horse in a graded stakes in the last five years.

Isotherm, a grand-looking individual, has teased and teased without breaking through with a win since the Pilgrim Stakes last September at Belmont.

Revved Up and Deeply Undervalued, a neck apart in a first-level allowance race Aug. 27 at Saratoga, both rate a chance, though they are turning back in distance from 11 to nine furlongs. Revved Up had a soft trip last out, tracking a slow pace in second before quickening to the line. Deeply Undervalued got shuffled back early in the race, dove to the rail for the stretch drive, and probably ran just as well as Revved Up.