03/06/2008 12:00AM

Commentator, if at best, will own Richter Scale


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - When it comes to talking about his horses, Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito is rarely at a loss for words. Except when it comes to one special member of his stable, whose exploits he often will sum up in just two words.

"He's Commentator!"

When right, Commentator has been not only unbeatable but also downright phenomenal. And if his last performance is any indication, Commentator couldn't be more right coming into Saturday's $200,000 Richter Scale Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The Grade 2 Richter Scale will highlight a 10-race card that also includes the $100,000 The Very One Handicap on the turf for fillies and mares.

Commentator is coming off another one of the spectacular performances he has turned in during his injury-plagued career, a 14-length allowance victory at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 17 in which he established a one-mile track record of 1:33.71.

A New York-bred son of Distorted Humor owned by Tracy Farmer, Commentator has posted 9 of his 10 wins by margins ranging from 6 1/4 to 16 1/2 lengths. The only time he actually battled his way to the winner's circle was when he outgamed Saint Liam by a neck to win the 2005 Gradeo1 Whitney at Saratoga.

"When he's right, he's Commentator," Zito said after the record-setting performance. "It would be wonderful if we could keep him like this all year."

Wonderful for Zito, scary for everybody else, including the seven rivals Commentator will face as the 123-pound highweight in the seven-furlong Richter Scale. The field also includes Chatain, King of the Roxy, Grand Champion, and Steve's Double.

Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Fall Highweight winner Grand Champion, might have summed up best what it's like to face Commentator at his best when he said, "I think he runs his second quarter faster than the first, and it just breaks their hearts trying to chase a horse like that.

"It's going to be awfully hard on Saturday unless somebody goes out there and grabs him early."

Grand Champion, who has had trouble breaking cleanly on occasion, is capable of big things on his best day - as in his back-to-back wins last fall in the Maryland Million and Fall Highweight handicaps.

Chatain, a talented but injury-prone horse like Commentator, has proven most effective at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile. Chatain successfully defended his title in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap on Jan. 6, his third successive victory dating back to an allowance win last summer at Saratoga.