The $175,000 Commonwealth Turf Stakes (G3) will be run at Churchill Downs Saturday and features a full field of three-year-olds on the turf at 1 1/16 miles. The course has absorbed a lot of rain this week and will not dry up much this time of year so expect it to be less than firm.

Commonwealth Turf Contender Notes

#1 TOBACCO ROAD has never won on turf in three tries. He was claimed for $40K from a sloppy main track race two starts back and came back four months later with an even effort at Keeneland. He draws the rail and can save some ground, but I can’t see him being a factor against these.    

#2 OSAGE MOON took seven tries to break his maiden, but he did it in fast time at Woodbine where he went gate to wire at this distance. He came right back to beat first-level allowance foes and now moves up in class for Mark Casse.

#3 CLINT MAROON ran well on the turf earlier this year with a pair of wins at Gulfstream Park. After racing against good company, he came back at Indiana Downs and was beaten less than a half-length in a very rough trip. He recorded an even fourth at Churchill going nine furlongs last time, and the British-bred son of Oasis Dream draws well with Channing Hill back aboard.  

#4 PIRATE’S PUNCH makes his turf debut off some solid dirt races. He missed by a length in the Super Derby going this distance then came back and missed by a neck at Keeneland against high-class allowance foes. He has talent but not much turf pedigree, and connections might be doing a rain dance.   

#5 MARQUEE PRINCE was a sharp winner here last year on the turf against allowance foes, prevailing over a Good course in gate-to-wire fashion. Given the summer off, the son of Cairo Prince returned at Indiana Downs with a sharp win against allowance foes. Brad Cox wins an amazing 30% in the next start after a win, showing show a flat-bet profit from his last 708 starters.   

#6 SPECTACULAR GEM won a $200K turf stakes race at Indiana Downs gate to wire two starts back. He came back to win the nine-furlong Jefferson Cup under the Twin Spires by almost two lengths with blinkers off. It looks like he can rate since his BRIS Pace figures were modest even though he was on the lead.

#7 TRACKSMITH returned to the races after a seven-month layoff with a good win over Churchill’s turf in late June and then went to Monmouth Park to win a minor stakes race as the even-money favorite. An even fourth in the Virginia Derby (G3), he recorded a good second from off the pace in the Jefferson Cup last out. Joe Sharp switches to Brian Hernandez Jr.  

#8 TIZ PLUS has changed trainers a couple of times, but he now shows up with Steve Asmussen, who wins 19% in this spot. The Tizway colt has won four of his last five turf attempts and his running style indicates that he can sit just off the leaders and make the first move.  

#9 KNICKS GO won a Grade 1 dirt stakes race last year but has not able to handle better sophomore rivals this year. He showed high speed from post 1 going seven furlongs on the dirt last out at Keeneland before weakening, and makes his turf debut for Ben Colebrook, who only wins 7% with this surface switch. The colt’s dam won three times on the turf, including a pair of turf sprint stakes.

#10 ARMISTICE DAY won a turf stakes race on Woodbine’s turf in July going nine furlongs in fast time. He raced evenly at Kentucky Downs in a $600K stakes race going long then went back to Woodbine to be second in the Ontario Derby (G3) on the Tapeta. The gelding has trained fast on the Tapeta in preparation and looks well spotted here.

#11 MR DUMAS broke his maiden on the dirt going six furlongs at Ellis Park then was a rallying third in a turf sprint at Kentucky Downs. In the last start at Churchill, he beat allowance foes easily after pressing the pace right from the start. John Ortiz wins 18% with his turf starters and his last 135 show a flat-bet profit.

#12 LOUDER THAN BOMBS has yet to run well in two starts over this turf course, but they both came on Firm going. He won a high-class allowance race at Keeneland last out when he pressing the pace and prevailing by a nose in decent time.

#13 FARAWAY KITTEN won the American Derby (G3) at Arlington Park in July but was outrun in the Secretariat Stakes (G1) next out. He lost all chance when breaking awkwardly in an Indiana Grand stakes race next out and exits an even third in the Jefferson Cup. Son of Kitten’s Joy gets Julien Leparoux but must pick up three pounds.

#14 JOURNEYMAN is an improving gelding who has a win on synthetic, turf and dirt at distances up to 1 ¼ miles. The Canadian Grade 3 winner was beaten only two lengths at Kentucky Downs last out, but I can’t envision him overcoming an extreme outside post here. 

Commonwealth Turf Picks

  • Tracksmith
  • Spectacular Gem
  • Faraway Kitten
  • Clint Maroon
  • Armistice Day

Commonwealth Turf Wagers

  • $40 Win: 7
  • $0.50 Trifecta Box: 3-5-6-7-10-13 ($60)