How to bet the Commonwealth Stakes

November 22nd, 2023

An overflow field of 15 sophomores will go postward in Sunday’s $300,000 Commonwealth S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. The 1 1/16-mile contest on the lawn is a wildly competitive event that could yield an excellent payout, and I will use multiple runners in hopes of cashing a healthy ticket. 

The Brendan Walsh-trained #7 Irish Aces has displayed marked improvement since stretching out on the lawn in his last two races and will be a major contender with another step in the right direction on Sunday. The gelded son of Mshawish dominated maiden foes at Indiana two back prior to posting a facile allowance victory at Keeneland most recently, and the three-year-old has trained well in the interim. Kentucky-bred colt can run from up close or off of the early tempo, and I expect him to be in striking range late with Tyler Gaffalione retaining the ride. 

I’m not sure why Ethan West’s #5 Runaway Storm went off at 20-1 odds in his Bryan Station S. (G3) triumph at Keeneland last time out, but this is a gelding to be taken seriously. The bay homebred has won three of his last four on the lawn with his lone defeat coming in a third-place result in the Virginia Derby (G3) behind a pair of fantastic runners, and he proved in his latest effort that he can run from off the pace, as well. Colby Hernandez will be in the irons atop the win contender. 

Mike Maker’s #2 Smokey Mandate has gone close in a trio of stakes races in succession and will need only slight improvement to be a major threat late at a fair number. The gelded gray was a good runner-up in the Jefferson Cup S. on this surface two back behind a fine sophomore, and he comes in with a rapid five-furlong bullet drill, too. James Graham will take the reins. 

#1 Northern Invader led throughout in a sharp victory in the Gio Ponti S. at Aqueduct and is well drawn on the rail with Jose Ortiz taking the reins. The $310,000 son of Collected has never run a bad one in his lifetime and doesn’t need the lead to win, although he might be sent early to establish position in a field of this size. The Ontario-bred chestnut has trained in swift fashion as of late to signal his readiness for Sunday. 

Shug McGaughey’s #6 Ohana Honor has a big turn of foot and brings fine form to the field as yet another contender in the tilt. The $430,000 son of Honor Code was a clear second in the Gio Ponti S. in his latest venture and will be arriving on the scene late with Kendrick Carmouche coming in to retain the mount. 

Commonwealth Wagers

$.50-cent trifecta box 1,2,5,6,7 ($30)

$.50-cent superfecta 5,7 with 1,2,5,6,7 with 1,2,5,6,7 with 1,2,5,6,7 ($24)