02/04/2012 5:23PM

Santa Anita: Mr. Commons survives inquiry to take Arcadia

Benoit & Associates
Mr. Commons closes from fifth under Mike Smith to defeat older horses for the first time in the Grade 2 Arcadia.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Mr. Commons confirmed his status as California’s top miler, won for the first time against older horses, and survived an inquiry with his victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Mr. Commons ($2.80) closed from fifth in the field of seven to win the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes over a mile on turf by a length, finishing in 1:33.41.

The stewards conducted a four-minute inquiry into the stretch run, focusing on whether Mr. Commons interfered with eventual third-place finisher Massone in early stretch. Massone was checked briefly while racing at the back of the pack, and closed in the final furlong to finish 1 1/2 lengths behind Mr. Commons.

Watching the replay, winning trainer John Shirreffs said he did not see an incident that merited a change in the order of finish by track stewards.

“When I watched the replay, I wasn’t sure what they were looking at,” Shirreffs said. “When you see the pan, it wasn’t that close.”

Mr. Commons raced toward the inside for most of the race. Dewey’s Special set a quick pace of 22.98 and 46.26 seconds, leading by a length to early stretch. Smith brought Mr. Commons three-wide in early stretch, and moved back toward the rail before the eighth pole.

“Mike has a lot of confidence,” Shirreffs said. “He sees it in the morning and the races and he can do what he wants.”

Willyconker, who rallied wide through the stretch, finished second, a half-length in front of Massone, the longest shot in the field at 45-1. Calimonco finished fourth, followed by Dewey’s Special, Pathfork, and M One Rifle.

The Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes was Mr. Commons’s fourth start against older horses, a span of races that includes a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November.

Owned by Ian Banwell, Mr. Commons has won 5 of 11 starts and $563,660. He won the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf on Dec. 26, his first start since the BC Mile. Last spring, Mr. Commons finished third in the Santa Anita Derby and eighth in the Preakness Stakes.

“We’re always looking for repeatable performances,” Shirreffs said. “There is so much different between him now and the Santa Anita Derby.”