08/04/2009 11:00PM

Commentator draws outside in Whitney

Barbara D. Livingston
Commentator will be seeking his third Whitney victory on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - With the rail and the outside post positions remaining and Commentator's name still having not been called, Tom Durkin, emceeing the draw for Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Handicap, asked Nick Zito, trainer of Commentator, what post he'd prefer.

"It doesn't matter," Zito said.

Zito maintained his laissez-faire attitude regarding the draw even after the speedy Commentator drew the outside post in the field of seven set to contest Saturday's 82nd renewal of the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Commentator is seeking a third victory in the Grade 1 Whitney, an accomplishment achieved only by Discovery (1934-36) and Kelso (1961, 1963, and 1965).

Commentator, an 8-year-old New York-bred son of Distorted Humor, won the Whitney in 2005 and 2008 in front-running fashion. But both Zito and jockey John Velazquez point to last September's Massachusetts Handicap as evidence that the gelding doesn't have to be on the lead. In that race, Commentator sat just off of a Suffolk Downs-based speedball for the opening half-mile before taking control and rolling to a 14-length victory.

"It's not like he needs to be on the lead all the time," said Velazquez, who will be riding Commentator for the ninth straight race. "He's older, he's more relaxed."

Saturday, Commentator may have another longshot speedball to deal with in Tizway, who has won three of his last four starts by showing a lot of early speed. Tizway, trained by James Bond, is drawn in post 5 and will be in receipt of eight pounds from co-highweight Commentator.

"At least we're outside of him," Zito said.

Tizway is by Tiznow out of the dam Bethany, who is a half-sister to Will's Way who won the 1997 Whitney for Bond and owner William Clifton. Clifton also owns Tizway. Bond said that while he will not instruct jockey Rajiv Maragh to send Tizway to the lead, "he's naturally quick."

Several trainers are hoping Tizway does apply pressure on Commentator. Macho Again, winner of the Stephen Foster in his last start; Dry Martini, the Suburban winner; and Asiatic Boy, second in both those aforementioned races, all do their best running from off the pace.

"We all hope people go after Commentator," said Barclay Tagg, trainer of Dry Martini. "They saw how easy he won it the past couple of years, they might not let him do it this time. That would help Asiatic Boy and us."

Bullsbay and Smooth Air complete the field.