03/29/2011 1:29PM

Oaklawn Park: Jones thinks it's about time for Commander to grow up


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The challenge trainer Larry Jones faces with the talented 3-year-old Commander might be better understood by women handicappers than their male counterparts. Basically, the striking horse could be likened to a good-looking guy who is not particularly ambitious.

“He’s out for social activity,” Jones said of Commander. “He goes out, hangs with his buddies, you know, finds somebody in [the race] he likes to run around with, and that’s the attitude he has.”

Jones is hoping to see Commander separate himself from his peers in the 10th race Thursday at Oaklawn Park. The entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up will be run at one mile, and it drew a well-matched field of nine that includes 14-length maiden winner Red Coyote, California invader Quiet Assault, and capable 4-year-olds Take Turns and Trinity Run.

Commander started the Oaklawn season looking like one of the top 3-year-olds on the grounds, when he was third by a neck to Alternation and Elite Alex in a Jan. 15 allowance. He proceeded to run sixth in another allowance, then was third as the favorite in his most recent start, an entry-level allowance Feb. 27.

“I’d like to see the horse show up that trains, because he does not race the way he trains,” Jones said. “He trains like a good thing. So, we’ve just got to get him showing up on race day.

“He’s got to learn to win.”

Jones is hoping Commander’s mental maturity is catching up to his excellent physical attributes, as Thursday’s race will be his sixth career start. Commander will come into the allowance off back-to-back bullet works, the latest five furlongs in 59.80 seconds March 22. Calvin Borel was aboard for the drill, and will ride the horse for the first time Thursday for owner Fox Hill Farm.

Red Coyote is moving to two turns after winning a maiden special weight sprint at Sam Houston Race Park with a Beyer Speed Figure of 84. He is a half-brother to multiple stakes winners Gold Coyote and Coyote Legend, both of whom have won stakes at two turns. Quincy Hamilton has the mount for trainer Bret Calhoun.

Quiet Assault won his maiden over eventual stakes winner Clubhouse Ride last June at Hollywood Park. He will be making his second start of the year, after running second in a first-level allowance at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 19. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has given the mount to Terry Thompson.