10/06/2012 1:52PM

Hastings: Commander has Jebrica as threat in Premiers

Four-Footed Fotos
Commander wins the S.W. Randall Plate Handicap.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Commander will be a heavy favorite to win his sixth stakes race in a row in the $100,000 B.C. Premiers at Hastings on Monday. The main threat to ending his streak appears to be Jebrica, who won the race for 3-year-olds and up last year.

Commander has been assigned high weight of 123 pounds and will be conceding as much as 13 pounds in the 1 3/8-mile feature that attracted eight horses. He drew post 7, and it is likely jockey Mario Gutierrez will put him right on the lead and see if he can carry his speed around the four turns it will take to complete the marathon distance. If Commander is successful, he will make his next start in the Grade 2, $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon going 1 3/4 miles at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: DRF top 10 lists, video replays, latest news]

Trained by Troy Taylor, Commander finished fourth in the Premiers as a 3-year-old last year, but he is a dramatically improved horse who appears to be peaking at the right time. He is coming off an easy front-running win over Crew Leader in the $50,000 S.W. Randall Plate going 1 1/8 miles, and the 100 Beyer Speed Figure he received is easily his career best.

Taylor is confident Commander can get the distance.

“He only got beat a few lengths in the Premiers last year, and he is a much better horse now,” Taylor said. “I guess he’ll be in front, but he came from off the pace to win the Spangled Jimmy at Northlands, so Mario has more than one option.”

Taylor also entered Hoist, but he said the 3-year-old probably won’t start unless Commander can’t make the race.

Jebrica appears to be coming around for trainer Jim Penney. He has just one win in a $40,000 optional claimer at Emerald Downs since he won the Premiers last year. Following that win on July 28, he had a rough trip in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile. In his last start, he finished third as the odds-on favorite in the four-horse Muckleshoot Tribal Classic at Emerald on Sept. 9.

Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze will certainly help Jebrica’s chances of upsetting Commander.

Northern Causeway, the 2011 Grade 3 British Columbia Derby winner, is bred to run all day, but he had been off for close to two months when he won a $40,000 optional claiming sprint just eight days ago. It was his first win since he won the B.C. Derby.

Crew Leader has won 2 of his last 3 starts, but wasn’t much of a threat to Commander in the Randall.