06/23/2012 7:12PM

Northlands: Commander sharp off four-month layoff in Journal


Commander benefitted from quick interior fractions of 22.0 and 45.20 seconds  to win the $50,000, six-furlong Journal for 3-year-olds and up at Northlands Park on Saturday. Commander paid $15.30, partly because  he was coming off a four-month layoff.

Commander was ridden by Jorge Espitia, who picked up the mount when Robert Skelly, who flew in from Hastings on Saturday  morning, wasn’t allowed to ride by the stewards at Northlands because he didn’t have the proper health certificates.

Commander was last early, started to move up going down the backstretch, and was good enough to hold off Gone in a Flash by 1 1/4 lengths despite going extremely wide. Salt Flat Speed finished third in the nine-horse field.

The final time for the six-furlong sprint was 1:10.40.

“It set up perfectly for him,” said Espitia. “He started to pick up horses on his own at the three-eighths pole and he really took off when I asked him to.”

Commander is trained by Randy Lane and owned by North American Thoroughbred Inc.