Commentator took command of the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap (VIDEO) with three furlongs to run and won by a record 14 lengths at odds of 1-10 at Suffolk Downs Sept. 20.
Trained by Nick Zito for owner Tracy Farmer, Commentator covered the 1 1/8-mile in 1:48.97 while being hand-ridden through the stretch by jockey John Velazquez.
Zito said he came to Suffolk Downs in part because of the track’s zero-tolerance policy toward horse slaughter.
“Commentator will carry that torch,” he commented afterward. “I hope Suffolk Downs will be a leader and the other racetracks will follow suit. It’s one of the most ugliest things, horse slaughter.”
Commentator stalked the pacesetter Riversrunrylee in second just on the outside for a half-mile before challenging for the lead, taking over before completing six furlongs in 1:10. The advantage continued to grow around the final turn and they led by seven lengths at the furlong marker. There was no one else in the picture as the 7-year-old Distorted Humor gelding doubled his advantage from mid-stretch to the wire while putting on a show for the Suffolk Downs crowd.
Zito, who would not divulge his plans for Commentator after the race, combined with Velazquez for three winners from three starters on the Suffolk Downs program.
"I'll go back to the barn and ask Commentator," he told TVG. "I'll let him tell me."
Won Awesome Dude, ridden by Casey Lambert, ran second by a length over the late-running Cuba, who came on for Pedro Cotto Jr. to get the show spot in the field of seven.
Zito has had great success spacing his races for the New York-bred Commentator, who had not been out since his 4 3/4-length romp in Saratoga's Whitney Handicap (gr. I) July 26, a race the veteran chestnut won previously in 2005. Overall, Commentator has won 13 of 20 starts while earning $1,841,936. Commentator earned a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) with the victory, but he'd already accomplished that with his Whitney win.
Santa Anita, which is outside of Los Angeles, has a synthetic track, which Zito has stated he doesn't care for. He took the opportunity to rave about the real surface in Boston.
“There’s nothing wrong with dirt. And it’s is a long way to go,” he said. “It’s hard to leave that on the table, for his reputation. You guys got a million dollar race around here?"
Commentator did not sneak up on anyone in the Mass Cap as the shortest-priced horse since Cigar won the race in 1996. He paid $2.20, $2.20, and $2.20 while carrying top weight of 122 pounds. Won Awesome Dude returned $4.60 and $3, rounding out a $2 exacta worth $9. Cuba was $2.80 to show.
“We weren’t in the same league as Commentator,” said Lambert, aboard Won Awesome Dude. “But we were good enough to be second best.”
Dr. Pleasure, Volcanic Force, Beck and Call and Riversrunrylee completed the order.
The previous record for margin of victory was eight lengths by Menow in 1938. The track record for nine furlongs at Suffolk is held by Skip Away, who ran 1:47.27 on May 30, 1998.
The biggest race in New England, the Mass Cap was shuttered for two years in 2005-06 because of financial difficulties. Brass Hat won last year before a crowd of 19,191, the largest at Suffolk Downs since Cigar’s race in ‘96.