11/09/2017 12:40PM

Mr. Misunderstood tries to keep grass streak alive in Commonwealth Turf

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Churchill Downs/Coady Photography
Mr. Misunderstood is undefeated on grass going into Saturday's Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Brad Cox knew before he left the Churchill Downs winner’s circle with Mr. Misunderstood on Sept. 30 where they both would be six weeks later.

“We’ll try to be right back in this same spot,” said Cox.

After his 2 3/4-length victory in the Jefferson Cup at Churchill, Cox left the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf as the last box for Mr. Misunderstood to check this year. The dark bay gelding has won all six of his career starts on turf.

Saturday at Churchill, Mr. Misunderstood will put that pristine record on the line as a heavy favorite versus seven other 3-year-olds in the 14th running of the $100,000 Commonwealth Turf at 1 1/16 miles.

“It’s pretty remarkable he’s stayed undefeated on turf, although we have been careful with the way we’ve spotted him,” said Cox, who trains Mr. Misunderstood for the Flurry Racing Stables of Staton Flurry. “Since the Jefferson Cup, he has trained very well, so we’re excited about running him back.”

Mr. Misunderstood, using the same stalk-and-pounce running style, has won all six of those turf races by at least two lengths, with the three most recent coming in ungraded stakes: the Prelude and Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, followed by the Jefferson Cup. The Commonwealth Turf marks his first start in a graded turf stakes.

Florent Geroux, fresh from the greatest win of his riding career one week ago with Gun Runner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has the call on Mr. Misunderstood, who will break from post 6.

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If Mr. Misunderstood happens to stub his toe, perhaps the most likely upsetters are My Bariley (post 2, Fernando De La Cruz), a 13-1 winner of the ungraded Hawthorne Derby over soft going two weeks ago, or Parlor (post 4, Julien Leparoux), second as the favorite two starts back in the Dueling Grounds Derby.

Completing the lineup are Sharm El Sheikh, Mr Cub, Gorgeous Kitten, Tiz a Slam, and Giant Payday. Most accomplished among them is the Roger Attfield-trained Tiz a Slam, although the colt’s best efforts have come over the Woodbine synthetic as runner-up in the prestigious Queen’s Plate and winner of the Grade 3 Ontario Derby.

The Commonwealth Turf will be run under the lights as the 10th of 11 Saturday races. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern, with the feature going at 5:35 and the last race at 6:06. Ontrack fans should know that the Virginia-Louisville football game at nearby Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium kicks off at 3:30.

KEY CONTENDERS

Mr. Misunderstood, by Archarcharch
Last 3 Beyers: 89-89-88

◗ Cox has deliberately picked out less-ambitious spots for him because “he’s a gelding, and hopefully we’ll have plenty of opportunity later on if he proves he belongs in the bigger races.”

My Bariley, by Mizzen Mast
Last 3 Beyers: 82-79-81

◗ Sixth at 25-1 in the Jefferson Cup, his two surrounding races were a solid runner-up finish in the Mystic Lake Derby and that last-out score in the Hawthorne Derby.

Parlor, by Lonhro
Last 3 Beyers: 82-85-87

◗ Long regarded as a stakes-worthy grass performer, this colt has a late kick that would be well-served here by Leparoux’s shrewd timing.