08/22/2012 3:01PM

Del Mar: Mr. Commons, Tale of a Champion on different paths heading into Del Mar Mile

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Tale of a Champion will be making his graded stakes and California debut in Sunday’s Grade 2 Del Mar Mile.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The 4-year-old colts Mr. Commons and Tale of a Champion meet for the first time in Sunday’s $200,000 Del Mar Mile on turf, a race that may determine how aggressively they will be campaigned this fall.

The colts will arrive at the start of the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile on different career paths.

Mr. Commons has a dented reputation – a multiple stakes winner who has lost his last three starts. Tale of a Champion makes his graded stakes debut, and first start in California, after winning four of his first five starts at Calder.

Mr. Commons, fifth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs, is being pointed to the same race this year, at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. He has not shown his best form in recent starts. After runner-up finishes in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile in March and Grade 2 American Handicap in May, Mr. Commons was fourth behind Del Mar Mile entrant Jeranimo in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 30.

The losing streak has not diminished trainer John Shirreffs’s enthusiasm for the colt, but has led to changes.

“We’ll add blinkers and change things up a bit,” Shirreffs said.

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Owned by Ian Banwell of Charlotte, N.C., Mr. Commons will have a different rider Sunday. With regular jockey Mike Smith at Saratoga, Brice Blanc will have the mount. Blanc will ride a colt best as a closer and reliant on a quick pace. “I think the horse is very talented,” Shirreffs said. “One of these days, everything will align for him.”

Tale of a Champion was purchased by Rustin and Juliana Kretz after winning the Calder Turf Sprint on July 7. He arrived at trainer Kristin Mulhall’s stable earlier this month and has had three works at Del Mar, including three furlongs in 35.40 on Wednesday.

“I blew him out this morning, and he couldn’t go any slower,” Mulhall said.

At Calder, Tale of a Champion won three races around two turns and won the five-furlong Turf Sprint in his first start around one turn.

“He’d never run one turn, and he went out and won the stakes,” Mulhall said. “He’s pretty versatile.”

The long-term goal is the BC Turf Sprint over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, Mulhall said. A big result in the Del Mar Mile against runners such as Jeramino and Mr. Commons could solidify those plans.

Del Mar plans bigger weekend cards

Del Mar plans to have a 10-race program on Saturday, and an 11-race program for the Pacific Classic on Sunday. First post time on Sunday is 1 p.m.

Aside from the Pacific Classic and Del Mar Mile, Sunday’s program also includes the $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes over seven furlongs. Camp Victory, the winner of the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park in June, is a leading contender.

Saturday’s program is led by the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap over 1  3/8 miles on turf. Dhaamer, a two-time stakes winner at Hollywood Park, is likely to go favored.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman