08/01/2013 2:39PM

Northlands Park: Commander appears to have Fred Jones Handicap at his mercy

Four-Footed Fotos
Commander dominated the handicap division at Northlands Park last year and should win the Fred Jones with a representative effort.

Can any of the horses lined up against Commander in the $50,000 Fred Jones Handicap at Northlands Park Saturday beat him? Not if he runs his usual race is the unfortunate answer for the connections of the four other horses in the field.

Commander has not lost going around three turns at Northlands, and he will be heavily favored to win the mile and a sixteenth feature for 3-year-olds and up.

Trainer Dennis Terry is not taking anything for granted.

“There are some very nice horses in the field and it could be a tough race for him,” Terry said.

The field includes Grade 3 winners Senor Rojo and Toccetive, but if Commander is on top of his game he is going to be tough to beat. He dominated the older handicap division at Northlands last year and closed out his Canadian campaign with a win over Jebrica in the Grade 3 B.C. Premier’s Handicap at Hastings. Taking a shot at the big time, owner Glen Todd elected to run Commander in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita, where he received a lot of respect, going off at 6.40-1 in the 13-horse field. He was too geared up to go the 1 3/4-mile distance and finished ninth after forcing a quick pace.

Commander is not at his best sprinting, so it was not surprising that he did not win any of his first three starts this year. He looked like his old self when easily taking the one-mile Spangled Jimmy Handicap at Northlands on June 29 with Jorge Espitia aboard. According to Terry, Commander is coming up to the race in excellent shape.

“He’s a monster right now and it’s a good thing he gets to run,” Terry said. “He’s really jumping out of his skin.”

Commander drew the rail and will be ridden by Aaron Gryder.

Senor Rojo finished second in the Spangled Jimmy and came back to win a one-mile, $35,000 optional claiming race on July 20. Trained by Dave Forster, Senor Rojo does his best running late and will need some pace help from Dougs Buddy if he is going to be able to catch Commander.

Dougs Buddy stalked the pace in the Spangled Jimmy before finishing a distant third. Trained by Joan Petrowski, Dougs Buddy set the pace before finishing second to Senor Rojo in his most recent start.

Toccetive won the Grade 3 Canadian Derby and came back to beat older horses in the Speed to Spare last year. He has been very dull in his three races this year, however.

Silver Baubles beat Commander going six furlongs in the Journal but was no match for him in the Spangled Jimmy, finishing fourth.