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Preakness Stakes 2011 Contenders: Mr. Commons Heads East Looking For Victory

The 2011 Preakness Stakes is just a week away, so now seems as good a time as any to start taking a closer look at the 2011 contenders. Our tour through the stables continues with a look at Mr. Commons, a three year old colt owned by Ian Banwell's St. George Farm Racing.

Mr. Commons is 4-2 in his career, earning $186,400 in winnings (quite a bargain when you consider his $70,000 purchase price). His jockey for the 2011 Preakness will be Victor Espinoza, who replaced Mike Smith. Smith will actually now be on the mount for Astrology at Pimlico. Friday, Espinoza seemed generally pleased with an "aggressive" ride aboard Mr. Commons. From the Daily Racing Form:

Espinoza said he was impressed by Mr. Commons’s speed. "I think he has a lot of talent," he said. "If you need the speed, it will be there. I’m glad I worked him."

Mr. Commons is trained by John Shirreffs, best know as the trainer of Zenyatta, the mare that won 19 straight races between 2007 and 2010. Shirreffs also trained 50-to-1 upset winner of the 2005 Kentucky Derby Giacomo, though Giacomo finished third at the Preakness that year. (Random facts about Shirreffs? He's a Vietnam vet and diehard Raiders fan)

Mr. Commons has prepared exclusively in California for the Preakness. Shirreffs says the horse will fly from California to Kentucky on Tuesday, and then fly again on Wednesday up to Baltimore. If he wins the 2011 Preakness, perhaps it's time for him to get a better travel agent.

The 2011 Preakness Stakes gets underway on May 21 at Pimlico. Stay with our Preakness Stakes StoryStream for more on the race. To look back at the Derby, check out SB Nation's2011 Kentucky Derby StoryStream. Also, our horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come has two must-read resources for Derby and Preakness fans: A Beginner's Guide To Following Horse Racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.