08/05/2011 3:51PM

Del Mar: Shirreffs looking at big weekend

Benoit & Associates
Mr. Commons, with Mike Smith riding, wins the Oceanside.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer John Shirreffs is likely to have the favorites in the two major stakes at Del Mar next weekend.

Friday, Shirreffs said he is seriously considering starting Mr. Commons in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles on turf next Saturday. Sunday, the Shirreffs-trained Harmonious will be favored in a tough running of the $250,000 John Mabee Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Shirreffs said he would finalize plans for Mr. Commons on Sunday, after the colt has a workout on turf. The $250,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4 is a long-term goal, but Shirreffs said that Mr. Commons has rebounded sufficiently from his win in the Oceanside Stakes on July 20 for a start between those races.

“He’ll breeze on Sunday and I’ll make a final decision,” Shirreffs said. “He’s doing really well. By racing him, you don’t have to work as much.”

The field for the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap may include Midnight Interlude, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby who won his turf debut in the minor Tsunami Slew Stakes at Hollywood Park in June.

Harmonious is winless in three starts this year, but has not been worse than third, including a second to Mabee probable Celtic Princess in the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 4. The Royal Heroine was Harmonious’s first start since February, and was a prep for the Mabee.

“That race should set her up well,” Shirreffs said. “We’ve been pointing for the Mabee for a long time.”

Aside from Celtic Princess and Harmonious, the expected starters for the Mabee include Malibu Pier and Cozie Rosie, the first two finishes of the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park in June; Medaglia d’Amour, unraced since winning the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap in 2010; Turning Top, who won the 2010 Beverly Hills; and defending champion Wasted Tears.

Wasted Tears was being shipped from owner-trainer Bart Evans’s base in Texas on Friday. She won the Grade 3 Ouija Board Stakes at Lone Star Park on May 30, but was fifth in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park on July 9.

◗ The Battle of the Exes match race featuring jockeys Chantal Sutherland and Mike Smith will have a 10-percent takeout on win betting, according to track officials.

The match race is the fourth race on Sunday’s 10-race program.