04/06/2017 10:30AM

A. P. Indian should find Commonwealth more to his liking

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Debra A. Roma
A. P. Indian was an Eclipse Award finalist for champion sprinter last year

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A season of highs ended with a low when A. P. Indian had his six-race winning streak snapped last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.

Given time to regroup and reload, A. P. Indian will be looking to return to the top echelon of the North American sprint division when he embarks on a new campaign Saturday as a solid favorite in the Grade 3, $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland.

In the six-furlong BC Sprint, won in 1:08.79 by Drefong, “it was a strong pace, and he was chasing those horses, and I don’t think he likes to run that way,” said trainer Arnaud Delacour, referring to an opening first quarter in 21.49 seconds.

“He is not used to that,” Delacour said. “He can do 22s comfortably, but chasing those horses took away from his closing kick.”

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The seven-furlong distance of the Commonwealth seems suitable to A. P. Indian’s preferred tempo and off-the-pace style. Joe Bravo will be back aboard when the 7-year-old gelding breaks from post 8 in a field of nine older horses.

The 2016 Commonwealth winner, Ami’s Flatter (post 7, Florent Geroux), will start right alongside him and figures as one of the top challengers, along with Limousine Liberal (post 3, Jose Ortiz), Yockey’s Warrior (post 4, Miguel Mena), and Awesome Slew (post 9, Joel Rosario).

This is the 31st running of the Commonwealth, which leads off a pick-five wager (races 6-10) that ends with the Blue Grass Stakes. Post time is 3:53 p.m. Eastern.

KEY CONTENDERS

A. P. Indian, by Indian Charlie

Last 3 Beyers: 93-104-107

◗ An innate desire to win and a consistent tractability are the most valuable traits for this Green Lantern Stables homebred, who was a gutsy winner of the Phoenix Stakes here in October and has compiled an 11-for-18 career mark for earnings of nearly $1.4 million.

Ami’s Flatter, by Flatter

Last 3 Beyers: 97-93-90

◗ Trained by Josie Carroll, this 5-year-old horse has gone winless since his 2 3/4-length triumph in this race last spring, but a runner-up finish last out at Tampa Bay Downs suggests he’s primed for a big effort.

Limousine Liberal, by Successful Appeal

Last 3 Beyers: 84-104-93

◗ The holder of the Keeneland track record for 6 1/2 furlongs (1:15.05), he went tooth and nail with A. P. Indian when beaten an inch or two last fall in a memorable renewal of the Phoenix.

Yockey’s Warrior, by Warrior’s Reward

Last 3 Beyers: 94-103-93

◗ This 5-year-old horse carries a three-race win streak into this after a smashing allowance victory here last fall was followed by scores at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn.

Awesome Slew, by Awesome Again

Last 3 Beyers: 98-91-96

◗ Live Oak homebred 4-year-old turns back from a series of longer races as an interesting price play for Mark Casse, who assumed his training over the winter in Florida.