The New York Racing Association will pay tribute to one of the most popular horses in racing when the recently-retired Commentator is honored on Sept. 6 at Saratoga.
The 8-year-old chestnut gelding, owned by Tracy Farmer and trained by Nick Zito, retired Aug. 9, a day after finishing third in the $750,000 Whitney Handicap (gr. I). He was attempting to join legends Discovery and Kelso as the only three-time winners of the race in its 82-year history.
On Sept. 6, NYRA will name the fifth race, an overnight stakes race for New York-bred 3-year-olds and up, “The Commentator.” Commentator will appear in the paddock before the race and then head to the main track. After parading for fans in front of the stands, Commentator, wearing a No. 1 saddlecloth, will be led into the winner’s circle to enjoy an edible key to the city in his favorite flavor — mint.
“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 are 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, Hayward will present Zito and the Farmers with framed commemorative photo collages of Commentator. A highlight video of Commentator’s career will be shown on monitors throughout the racetrack.
Commentator, bred in New York by Michael Martinez, leaves the racing stage with 14 victories, eight of them in stakes races, from 24 starts, with earnings of $2,049,845. He 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.
“It’s a great honor that NYRA is recognizing Commentator with this special ceremony,” Zito said. “He was foaled in New York, almost won three Whitneys, and is one of the fastest New York-breds to ever grace the track. The Farmers were very patient with him and deserve all of the attention for this extraordinary horse.”
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 13 3/4 lengths two races before taking his second Whitney. He also won the Massachusetts Handicap by 14 lengths that year and finished second in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I).