Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Commentator" - Risen from the Ashes

Edition #2 of the "Marcus in Seattle" Files.

He is listed on NTRA as "one of the most brilliant front runners in recent decades, he can simply blitz his competition off thir feet." He won the MassCap and the Whitney, both in stylish fashion. Every time he runs, I think of Trevor Denman calling a race right out of the gate.

"Annnnnddddd awayyyyy they go!

"That's emblematic of what I've come to know and expect from Commentator. Back to back wins in the Whitney. A nice Place in the Met Mile. Good racing, plain and simple. All of this seems amazingly surreal for a horse to accomplish at age 7 with all of his past problems. Health derails many careers. Zito took Commentator and allowed him to be great in time, instead of pushing him to fill pockets when he was younger. It seems to have panned out. The horse flys out of the gate, shows great speed and runs other horses into the ground. It seems like a sound method of running a horse; Hard Spun used the same tactic two years ago but didn't seem to have everything together in one race. On a side note, I've always admired Hard Spun. In other years, he would have been an elite horse. I won't dare say he had Triple Crown talent, but neither did Funny Cide and a few others. Hard Spun was just plain fun to watch. He had speed, could run all day and had a remarkable knack for being consistently in the race anywhere from 6 to 12 furlongs. From a trainer's standpoint, I'm sure Spunny was a dream horse. But all of that talent was retired too early. The potential not realized. Hard Spun might have been an excellent rival to Curlin this past year. We never will know.

But I digress, Commentator reminds me of Hard Spun in ways. Different in others. For one, Commentator was given the time to realize potential. He is 7 and yes I realize he is a gelding. When health issues showed up, they could have retired him. They didn't. I admire Nick Zito for that. In one year, I've seen an owner (Jess Jackson) race his colt for the good of racing and it's fans. Curlin not only raced for money but for legacy as well when he could have been in the shed. His place among the greats is secure. But now I've witnessed a trainer pull his horse from the ashes to try a campaign at age 7 that may put him in the company of Kelso and John Henry in the future. That's another man racing a horse for legacy. It's hard not to smile about that, right?

It's been a good year. Zenyatta is the best filly/mare out there. Curlin is now one of the immortals. The Europeans prove they can win on American Polytrack. Midnight Lute won back to back Sprint titles. And lastly, Commentator became a huge story not because he beat the best or made the most money. Rather, he displayed a dominance no one saw coming. He won big name races. It's that simple. I, personally, wish he would have been tested in the Dirt Mile but I'm alright with settling for the MassCap and Whitney performances. I hope he dominates in the Clark and then comes back next year. Maybe then some 3 year old will have our attention. Maybe Midshipman or Vineyard Haven romps in the Derby. Or maybe Commentator wins his third Whitney and takes the Classic wire to wire. It's a pipedream, I'm aware. But without Curlin, some of us have to find another horse to latch on to. I'm not sure I'll feel the same way about a 7 year old gelding as I did about Curlin but if Commentator can pull one more good year out of those achy joints and legs, 2009 might be just as good as 2008. If not better.


Marcus from Seattle said...

In case anyone is curious..this story was written by

Cindy Brooks-Weaver said...

I was thrilled to see Commentator in the Clark Handicap. I felt he was a lock and watching him tire in the stretch was depressing. I still believe he's awesome and Nick Zito is an ultra sharp trainer so I'm anxious to see what 2009 will offer.

billyace said...

You've done a great job on your site. Just wanted to point out one of the main reasons Jess Jackson kept Curlin on the track. The legal problems with the other 20 percent owners, some 400 of them. If it were't for them he probably would have sent Curlin to the barn. But I'm glad he didn't.