06/28/2012 3:03PM

Hollywood Park: Mr. Commons should get pace help in Shoemaker Mile

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Mr. Commons should get a lively pace to chase in Saturday's Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Mr. Commons and Little Mike are set in their ways.

Mr. Commons is a closer, reliant on a quick pace to help his chances in the stretch of one-mile turf races. Little Mike races from the front and is dangerous with that style.

They will play their customary roles when they meet for the first time in Saturday’s $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park. Mr. Commons, the expected favorite, will be seeking his first stakes win since the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita in February.

Little Mike, making his California debut, can win his third stakes of the year.

The Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile has significant importance for the turf mile division. The winner receives a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3 as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program, provided the winner is nominated to the Breeders’ Cup.

Mr. Commons, owned by Ian Banwell, was fifth in the BC Mile at Churchill Downs last fall. A victory Saturday is part of the buildup to that race.

[HOLLYWOOD PARK: Get PPs and watch Saturday’s full card live]

Trainer John Shirreffs said two recent losses by Mr. Commons – runner-up finishes in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita on March 3, by a neck, and the Grade 2 American Handicap here May 26, by 1 1/4 lengths – have not affected his opinion of the 4-year-old colt.

“I haven’t lost any faith,” Shirreffs said. “When they finish so close, you know he will get there sometime.”

The faster Little Mike goes on the front, perhaps facing pressure from the 7-year-old gelding Liberian Freighter, the more it helps Mr. Commons’s chances.

“That’s a lot of speed,” Shirreffs said of the race scenario.

“He’s been such a nice horse and so honest all along. He acts like he’s a little sharper for this race.”

Little Mike, owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza and trained by Dale Romans, won the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 5, his first win at that level. A 5-year-old gelding, Little Mike has won five stakes.

Romans said that Little Mike’s style is a major asset.

“He’s a rare horse that has speed and endurance,” he said.

Aside from Little Mike and Mr. Commons, the Shoemaker Mile has drawn a strong field.

There is one other shipper from the East Coast in Corporate Jungle, winner of turf stakes at Gulfstream Park (Grade 3 Appleton Stakes) and Monmouth Park (Elkwood Stakes) earlier this year.

Suggestive Boy, winner of four Group 1 races in Argentina in 2011, makes his American debut for trainer Ron McAnally. A 4-year-old colt by the Storm Cat sire Easing Along, Suggestive Boy’s 2011 stakes wins came at distances from seven furlongs to about 1 1/4 miles on turf.

The field of eight also includes the first two finishers of the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile – Hudson Landing and Jeranimo. Jeranimo has shown an affinity for the Hollywood Park turf course, having won the Grade 2 Citation Handicap last fall.