06/11/2009 11:00PM

Commentator prepping for Whitney run

Barbara D. Livingston
Commentator, shown training last summer, will run in Friday's Kashatreya Stakes at Belmont as a prep for the Whitney.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Now that the Belmont Stakes is over, Saratoga becomes a prominent thought in the minds of many horsemen and fans. When Nick Zito thinks about Saratoga, one of his most prominent thoughts is of the Whitney Handicap.

With the opportunity for Commentator to win a third Whitney in five years foremost in his mind, Zito has found a perfect spot in which to prep the 8-year-old New York-bred gelding. In Friday's $65,000 Kashatreya Stakes at one mile, Commentator meets four New York-breds. Commentator is 5 for 5 against New York-breds, winning all five by a combined margin of 44 3/4 lengths. He has not faced statebreds since 2007, when he won a race similar to Friday's by 11 1/4 lengths.

First post Friday is 3 p.m., as Belmont begins its twilight Friday cards for the remainder of the meet - with the exception of July 3. There will be food and drink specials from 4-8 p.m. in the Festival Tent in the backyard and a concert by the local band Pink Noise at the conclusion of the races.

Commentator figures to make some noise of his own in the Kashatreya, which also will be the return to the races of the multiple stakes winner Naughty New Yorker. Commentator has run only once this year, that being a fourth-place finish in the Charles Town Classic on April 18. Zito couldn't find a suitable prep for Commentator for that nine-furlong race, and Commentator got a little tired in that three-turn race, his first off a five-month layoff.

"He's had time to recuperate, his works have all been great," Zito said Wednesday from Saratoga. "We just need to get him back on track, get him back going. This is a good spot to get him going. Hopefully, he'll run well."

In addition to being the most accomplished horse in the field, Commentator also looms the lone speed under John Velazquez from post 3. After this race, Commentator, who won the Whitney in 2005 and 2008, will have eight weeks until the Whitney, scheduled for Aug. 8.

"We'll have plenty of time," Zito said.

Naughty New Yorker, who is less than $20,000 away from becoming a millionaire, will make his first start since last June's Suburban. Though the 7-year-old Naughty New Yorker and Commentator began their careers one month apart five years ago, they have never met.

Completing the field are Stud Muffin, who won the Empire Classic last year for New York-breds, Commissioner Chris, and Joe Corrigan.