Updated on 09/17/2011 10:11PM

Big Beyers for Commonwealth seven


LEXINGTON, Ky. - On virtually any other day, the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup would stand out like dandelions on the Keeneland turf course. But Saturday happens to be the day of the deepest Kentucky Derby prep of the year, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes - so the $400,000 Commonwealth doesn't grab the attention it deserves.

Yet the main contenders in the Grade 2 Commonwealth definitely are standouts. In the seven-horse field are three Grade 1 winners, most notably Cajun Beat, winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Lion Tamer, winner of the Cigar Mile last fall.

, trained by Todd Pletcher, is the probable favorite in the seven-furlong Commonwealth, having won the race last year as the 7-5 choice. A hard-charging 5-year-old who will be ridden by John Velazquez, Lion Tamer will carry high weight of 124 pounds under allowance conditions.

"I like everything about the race except we are taking the worst of it, by far, in the weights," said Pletcher. "He showed last year that he likes this track. He's trained exceptionally well lately, and there's enough speed in there to make an honest pace. I like our chances."

In his 2005 debut, the March 12 Richter Scale BC at Gulfstream Park, Lion Tamer rallied to finish second to Sir Shackleton, who has been in peak form for trainer Nick Zito. Sir Shackleton drew the rail and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

"He's going good right now," said Zito. "Let's just keep that going."

The depth of the Commonwealth is vividly displayed by this statistic: every starter has earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 or better within his last two starts. Among them are Gold Storm, who got a 111 and a 109 in back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds this winter, and , the Maryland standout who earned a 110 and a 108 in his last two races.

figures as the pacesetter Saturday, but the pursuit will be dogged, and any of the seven entered stands a realistic chance to win.

"I know it's a real tough race, but my horse is doing great, and he's shown he can be really competitive with the best," said Dallas Stewart, who trains the highly consistent Clock Stopper. "He'll be ready."

The Commonwealth, which directly precedes the Blue Grass as the eighth of 10 races Saturday, is the second leg in the new Premier Pick 4 wager.

Shakertown: Soaring Free eyes repeat

The Saturday card also includes the $100,000 Shakertown Stakes (race 6), a Grade 3 turf sprint in which Soaring Free, who won the 2004 running in his seasonal debut as the odds-on favorite, once again is a major contender.

Jerry Bailey has the mount on for Sam-Son Farms. "He has trained extremely well for this," said trainer Mark Frostad.

Other notable Shakertown starters include , winner of the King's Bishop at Saratoga last summer, along with Battle Won, Del Mar Show, Mighty Beau, and Wrzeszcz. A field of 11 older horses is entered.