05/27/2008 1:54PM

Moral Victory


They don't pay off on moral victories, but Commentator could not have been more gallant in defeat than he was while finishing second to Divine Park in the Met Mile Monday.

After being pushed by First Defence to run very strong fractions (22.48, 44.52) on a tiring track, Commentator appeared cooked in upper stretch when First Defence ranged up on his outside and began to go past him. The old boy rose to the challenge, however, digging back in and regaining the lead, refusing to let First Defence go by him and crushing his bid. He reopened some daylight and looked like he might gut it out, but then along came a fresh Divine Park to go past him.

The extremely strong pace and dull surface led to a slow final time of 1:36.91 and very slow final quarter of 27.30 off a pace of 1:09.61. There were only four dirt races at Belmont Monday, three of them at a mile, but it was nearly four hours between the Met and the previous one-mile races. The final times of the three mile races are very hard to fit together because the first two were slow-paced events, but they make a little more sense if you look at both the six-furlong splits and the final times:

Race 2 (maiden claimers): 1:12.84/1:40.19
Race 3 (statebred Alw N1x): 1:11.77/1:37.43
Race 10 (Metropolitan H.): 1:09.61/1:36.91

Think of it this way: While the final time of the statebred N1x was only three lengths (5-6 Beyer points at a mile) slower than the Met, it was 13 lengths slower (33-34 Beyer points at six furlongs) slower to the six-furlong call.

Commentator now will be pointed for the Whitney and a possible date with Curlin while Divine Park -- who has now won the Withers, Westchester and Met, all one-turn miles -- looks like a strong Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile candidate.

I had singled Commentator on a small pick-six play that died one leg earlier Monday. The $238k double-carry drew a hearty $1,028,157 in new money, producing a $45,376 6-of-6 payoff that feels a little high for a $12.40/$12.20/$8.60/$10.60/$6.40/$12.40 sequence. On the other hand, the parlay works out to a suprisingly high $34,201, and all six favorites lost.