07/20/2011 8:43PM

Del Mar: Mr. Commons great on grass in Oceanside

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Benoit & Associates
Mr. Commons, ridden by Mike Smith, flies home to win the Oceanside Stakes on opening day at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - After flirting with the Triple Crown, Mr. Commons came back to his first love on Wednesday, scoring an impressive victory on turf in the $112,100 Oceanside Stakes, the opening-day feature at Del Mar.

Mr. Commons ($4.20) defeated maidens in his only previous grass race, which came at Santa Anita in January, but after a third-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby two starts later, he ran in the Preakness, finishing eighth. Off since then, Mr. Commons returned to the turf on Wednesday and swooped past his rivals to win by a deceptively easy 1 1/2 lengths in the one-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Burns, last in the nine-horse field early, rallied for second, with Extensive another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Mr. Commons, a son of turf star Artie Schiller, completed one mile on firm turf in 1:34.96. He covered his final quarter-mile a shade over 23 seconds, and drew high praise from jockey Mike Smith, who compared Mr. Commons to Lure, a two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner.

John Shirreffs, who trains Mr. Commons, was eager to get Mr. Commons back on the grass.

“We had to try the Triple Crown,” Shirreffs said. “He’s a very versatile horse. He can run well on dirt. But he’s outstanding on turf. It made sense to get him back on something we know he likes.”

Shirreffs said he would speak with Ian Banwell, whose St. George Farm owns and bred Mr. Commons, before deciding whether to await the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4, or come back mid-meet in the Grade 2, $150,000 La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 13. Both races are on turf.