01/17/2008 12:00AM

Commentator romps in record time


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Commentator served notice he could again be a force to reckon with in the handicap division, cruising to a 14-length victory in Thursday's allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Commentator barely broke out of a gallop yet still posted a one-mile track mark of 1:33.71 under jockey John Velazquez. Chatain set the old standard of 1:33.87 in 2007.

"God Bless America," a beaming Nick Zito said in the winner's circle after the race. "Only in America can a 7-year-old come back like a 2-year-old. I told Johnny he was going to break the track record today."

Thursday's outing was just Commentator's eighth start since he captured the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap in August 2005, and his first since finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 27.

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

Zito said he has no plans mapped out for Commentator, a gelding who is owned by Tracy Farmer.

"He's a New York-bred and we'd like to have fun with him this year," Zito said. "He certainly likes the Gulfstream surface, it's a lot like Saratoga, although when he's right, he likes any track. This could be his last year of racing, although Mr. Farmer always tells me never say never. The one thing I can guarantee is that when he does retire, he'll always have a nice home."

'Crazyguy' needs help for Millions

Trainer Bill Kaplan would desperately like to run Imawildandcrazyguy in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic next Saturday at Santa Anita. But at the moment, it appears he's going to need some help to get into the race after Imawildandcrazyguy wound up being rated seventh among the 12 Florida-breds pre-entered for the Classic.

Under the rules that govern all Sunshine Millions races, six spots are available for Florida-breds and California-breds in each race, with horses ranked by various criteria should an event overfill on either side. For his horse to crack the starting lineup, Kaplan would need a defection from one of the six Florida-breds rated ahead of Imawildandcrazyguy or for five or fewer California-breds to enter the Classic.

"We'll enter and see what happens, but if I'm still on the also-eligible list I'm not going to put him on the plane for California," Kaplan said. "Even if he drew in, he'd have a terrible post."

Imawildandcrazyguy gained national notoriety after finishing fourth behind division leaders Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Curlin in the 2007 Kentucky Derby. He also competed in three other Grade 1 races at 3 before returning home during the fall. He was stakes placed three times at Calder, including the Grade 3 Calder Derby.

"Obviously, things will be a little different for him this year now that he's turned 4 and has to run against older horses," Kaplan said.

Even if Imawildandcrazyguy doesn't get into the Classic, Kaplan will still have plenty of action on Sunshine Millions Day. He'll run Storm in May in the Sprint and Calico Bay in the Oaks. Both of those races are at Gulfstream Park.

Storm in May upset the 2007 Sunshine Millions Dash here last winter, rallying from last to defeat Idiot Proof at odds of 25-1. Idiot Proof went on to run second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Calico Bay captured the My Dear Girl division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at 2 and kicked off her 3-year-old campaign by finishing fourth in the Tropical Park Oaks on grass on New Year's Day.

Jockey Manoel Cruz, who has been on holiday since guiding Smooth Air to victory in the Grade 2 Hutcheson on Jan. 5, will return in time to ride both Storm in May and Calico Bay on Sunshine Millions Day.

Ariel Smith enjoys solid start

The leading jockey list is filled with the usual suspects following the opening two weeks of the meet. One name listed among the leading riders that nobody expected to see, however, is that of former Eclipse Award winner Ariel Smith, who was tied for eighth in the standings with Kent Desormeaux entering Thursday's card.

Smith won an Eclipse as the leading apprentice in 1999. Knee problems sidetracked his career for the next several years before he re-emerged as a regular on the south Florida circuit this season.

"I traveled back and forth between Florida and New York a couple of times looking to find a home, and I think that hurt my business, but I'm here to stay now," Smith said.

Smith is the regular rider for the multiple-stakes-winning filly Cher Ami, who will be among the favorites next week in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint. Smith has guided the speedster to three wins and a second, all in stakes, since trainer Larry Bates first brought the pair together at Calder in October.

* Visionaire, an impressive first-level allowance winner here earlier in the meet, worked a half-mile in 50.40 seconds at Palm Meadows on Thursday. Trainer Michael Matz remains uncommitted as to where the 3-year-old might make his next start.