03/03/2011 4:36PM

Brad Free's Santa Anita Derby rankings - March 4


Mr. Commons ran himself into the Santa Anita Derby picture with a good allowance win Feb. 28. The pace of the mile race was slow (47.02 seconds for a half-mile), which subsequently led to a slow final time (1:34.84). As a result, the number was soft - 89 Beyer.

The effort indicated Mr. Commons, by Artie Schiller, can handle dirt, at least when he races in the clear with no kickback while chasing a pace so slow the race resembled a turf race (first half in 47.02 seconds, second half 47.82). Mr. Commons has much to prove.

But he has plenty of natural ability, as his dominating maiden turf sprint win suggested. A three-start colt trained by John Shirreffs, he will be among the least seasoned in the Santa Anita Derby, and one of most intriguing. Mr. Commons moves onto the Santa Anita rankings for the first time at No. 10.

Akkadian, whose Jan. 15 debut was a fast-closing second to Mr. Commons, stretched to 1 1/8 miles Feb. 24 and crushed maidens. He won the turf race by 2 1/2 lengths. Julio Canani trains the Tiznow colt, whose future is bright. While it might be too late for him to make a springtime derby, Akkadian is one to follow.

The Grade 2 San Felipe on March 12 is the final Santa Anita Derby prep, and it could produce the Santa Anita Derby favorite. Jaycito continues to train forwardly and is scheduled for his 2011 debut in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Comma to the Top will try to rebound from his disappointing Feb. 12 comeback (fourth place) at Golden Gate, while maiden sprint winners Albergatti and Runflatout will try to stretch their speed two turns while facing winners for the first time. Bench Points, either a late-running sprinter or a very good 3-year-old, or possibly both, puts his 4-for-4 record on the line. Indian Winter drops off the list after a strange trip finishing third in the Turf Paradise Derby.

Santa Anita Derby rankings

1. Silver Medallion
2. Comma to the Top
3. Jaycito
4. Awesome Patriot
5. Anthony's Cross
6. Riveting Reason
7. Bench Points
8. Sway Away
9. Astrology
10. Mr. Commons