(Edited New York Racing Association press release)
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) paid tribute to Commentator Sept. 6, at Saratoga Race Course. The 8-year-old chestnut gelding, owned by Tracy Farmer and trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, was retired from racing Aug. 9, a day after finishing third in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I). He was attempting to join Discovery and Kelso as the only three-time winners of the race in its 82-year history.
NYRA named Sept. 6’s fifth race, an overnight stakes race for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up, “The Commentator.” Commentator appeared in the paddock before the race and then headed to the main track. After parading for fans in front of the stands, Commentator, wearing a No. 1 saddlecloth, was led into the winner’s circle to enjoy an edible “Key to the City” prepared by Glen Sanders Mansion Bakery in his favorite flavor — peppermint.
“I want to thank NYRA and the fans of New York for supporting Commentator,” Zito said “It has been special to bring him to Saratoga for so many Whitneys, and we almost pulled it off for his third [win]. It has been a tremendous honor. The fans know how hard it is to keep a horse going that long and to run at that high level, and that’s what we did. He brought his game every day. It’s bittersweet. It’s sad, but it’s happy.”
“Commentator had a spectacular racing career, and he saved some of his best performances for Saratoga Race Course,” said NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward. “We were thrilled to give the fans a chance to see him one more time on the Saratoga track and would also like to commend Nick Zito, along with Tracy and Carol Farmer, for their classy and professional handling of the horse.”
After the race, NYRA presented Zito and the Farmers with framed commemorative photo collages of Commentator. A highlight video of Commentator’s career was shown on monitors throughout the racetrack.
Commentator , bred in New York by Michael Martinez, left the racing stage with 14 victories, eight of them in stakes races, from 24 starts, with earnings of $2,049,845. The son of Distorted Humor won the Whitney for the first time in 2005 when he held on for a heart-stopping victory over eventual champion older male Saint Liam, then captured the race again three years later in a front-running tour de force.
Commentator overwhelmed his opposition when at his best, in both sprints and route races. He won Gulfstream Park’s grade II Richter Scale at seven furlongs by 13¾ lengths two races before taking his second Whitney at 1 1/8 miles.