Under the guiding of John Velazquez, the 7-year-old gelding broke from post six, caught pacesetter Elite Squadron before the half-mile pole and then steadily increased his lead in the seven-furlong test for older horses. The son of Distorted Humor led by five at the top of the lane, but extended his lead with every stride to the wire.
The final time of 1:23.23 was not a track record, but Commentator has already accomplished that feat at Gulfstream this year. In his last start, an allowance-optional claiming event, he stopped the clock in a dirt course record of 1:33.71 for a mile.
The Richter Scale was Commentator’s second graded stakes score, and his 11th win in 17 career starts for trainer Nick Zito. He was bred in New York by Michael Martinez.
“He’s just a tremendous horse with so much ability and class,” Zito said. “He’s a real treasure for the fans. I’m a fan. With the (physical) problems he had early in his career, he’s only (been able) to run (an average) about 2 ½ times a year. Dr. (Larry) Bramladge deserves a lot of credit. He operated on him a couple times (cannon-bone fracture injuries) and he came back great.
“It is Mr. Farmer’s wish for him to win the Whitney again. When he did it before he beat the horse (Saint Liam) that went on to be Horse of the Year. I don’t know whether we can do it, but that’s his wish, and we’re going to try. There are a lot of options to get him there.”
Velazquez, who won five times on the day, was a little worried about getting Commentator to the starting gate. “Before the race, he tried to run off with the pony because there was a horse ahead of us warming up.
“I stayed in town this weekend specifically to ride him. I wasn’t worried about the other horses putting pressure on me. His owner told me just to make sure he breaks good and then to let him do his own thing. Each time another horse would come to him he would dig in a little bit; he just got into a rhythm.”
Rexson’s Rose, at odds of 61-1, rallied to get second, a length in front of Elite Squadron. Grand Champion was fourth.
Chatain, who had three consecutive wins entering the race, was scratched, along with King of the Roxy. The scratches helped bettors send Commentator off at odds of 3-10. He paid $2.60, $2.60 and $2.10. The $1 exacta (6-8) returned $28.80.