Two-time Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner Commentator could end his successful racing season at Churchill Downs with a bid for the 134th running of the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. II) Nov. 28.
Trainer Nick Zito said Oct. 29 that Tracy Farmer’s 7-year-old gelding is “possible” for the Clark, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.
The son of Distorted Humor scored a dominating 14-length victory in the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs in his most recent start Sept. 20, but Zito decided against a trip to Santa Anita for a run over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). Commentator is enjoying the finest year of his career with wins in four of five races and earnings of $1,025,700 on the season. Along with his win in the Whitney, a race that he won for the first time in 2005, he also won the Richter Scale Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park and suffered his only loss in a strong runner-up finish to Divine Park in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont.
Commentator has raced only once at Churchill Downs, but turned in a dazzling effort with an eight-length victory over a “good” track in a one-mile allowance race in late November 2004. The then-unbeaten New York-bred led every step that day as he covered the distance in 1:35.91 in notching his fifth victory.
“It’s a possibility,” Zito said by telephone of a run by Commentator in the Clark. “I still have to talk with Tracy, but it’s the end of the year and he likes Churchill. He likes anywhere, but he proved that he liked Churchill. The Clark is a prestigious race and Tracy’s a Kentuckian – and we run on dirt.”
Zito has been a frequent critic of synthetic surfaces and did not take any horses to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The Breeders’ Cup Classic had been in Zito’s plans for Commentator, but the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer said he simply ran out of time with his veteran.
“I couldn’t make the Breeders’ Cup – I wanted to bad,” he said. “But he does need time in between races. The Clark is a good stop-off, it’s a good end of the year race. So it’s a possibility. We’ll talk before we decide anything, but right now it’s what we’re looking at.”
Commentator is currently training at Saratoga. He has a career record of 13-1-2 in 20 races with earnings of $1,841,936.