04/12/2012 4:48PM

Keeneland: Comedero looks like lone speed in Commonwealth

Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Comedero, with Cliff Berry riding, wins the Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes at Oaklawn.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Comedero had to scratch as the morning-line favorite from the $75,000 Hot Springs Stakes three weeks ago at Oaklawn Park after coming down with a mild fever. It’s just as well, since the alternative became the $175,000 Commonwealth Stakes, a Grade 2 race with more than double the purse and one in which the Arkansas-bred speedster looks like a dominant front-runner.

“This looked like a race where he could be lonely on the front end,” said Mike Stidham, who trains Comedero for Peter Redekop. “He’s got real sprint speed.”

Comedero, an earner of nearly $670,000, drew post 1 as one of seven older horses entered in the Commonwealth, a seven-furlong Polytrack race carded as the ninth of 12 races on Blue Grass Stakes Day at Keeneland. Stidham believes the key to victory is how Comedero handles the surface, since this is the first time in 19 career races that the 5-year-old gelding will race on Polytrack.

“If he handles the Poly, they’re really going to have to catch him,” said Stidham. “He trained well over it here last fall, and that last work here Sunday” – five furlongs in :58.80 seconds – “was really something. You never know until they run over it, but he’s given us every indication he likes it.”

Jimmy Graham, who won the Grade 1 Ashland here last Saturday aboard Karlovy Vary, has the mount on Comedero.

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Perhaps the chief threat to Comedero will start right alongside of him in post 2: Right One, a Christophe Clement-trained turf specialist who figures to be firing late. Garrett Gomez has the call on Right One, whose best efforts in seven North American starts include a win in the Grade 3 Jaipur last July at Belmont and a third in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile last September.

The balance of the field is Plutonium, El Gran Sol, Lonesome Street, Philippe, and Bergerac. Of those, maybe Lonesome Street, with Joel Rosario to ride, rates the best upset chance following a series of decent efforts over turf.

This is the 26th running of the Commonwealth, which often serves as a prep for the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Previous winners include such standouts as Black Tie Affair (1990-91), Afternoon Deelites (1996), Orientate (2002), and Sun King (2006).

The Commonwealth is part of the all-stakes pick four (races 8-11), with post time set for 5:13.