10/13/2004 11:00PM

Commentator spoils Eurosilver's return


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Commentator was an impressive winner, and Nick Zito was a gracious one.

Zito, who was the trainer of Eurosilver when the colt blossomed into a major contender for the 2004 Kentucky Derby last winter, sent out Commentator to a seven-length triumph over Eurosilver in the $112,600 Perryville Stakes at Keeneland on Thursday.

Zito said he was delighted with the victory, which kept Commentator, a New York-bred gelding, unbeaten in four starts. Zito also expressed his respect for Eurosilver, who had to miss the Derby because of illness. Eurosilver was making his first start in seven months and his first since being transferred by owner Buckram Oak Farm from Zito to Carl Nafzger.

"I'm glad it was Eurosilver's first start in seven months, not seven weeks," said Zito. "He's a great horse. I'm glad he ran as well as he did."

Eurosilver ran well, but not nearly fast enough to catch Commentator, who led throughout under Rafael Bejarano. Owned by Tracy Farmer, Commentator paid $5.80 after finishing the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet in a rapid 1:25.19, just .59 seconds off a 41-year-old track record.

Weigelia, the 7-5 favorite, finished third, a half-length behind Eurosilver and a neck before Level Playingfield.

Commentator, by Distorted Humor, now has won his four starts by a combined 34 lengths. Zito said he was not sure where Commentator would run next, "but I do want to stretch him out. He answered some questions today. He's an amazing horse, an exciting horse."

The Perryville field was reduced to seven 3-year-olds after the early scratches of Wimplestiltskin, Mass Media, and Fire Slam. Trainer David Carroll said the muddy track condition was the reason he scratched Fire Slam.

One race earlier, Bejarano escaped injury when his mount, Swift Attraction, appeared to break down on the backstretch in a $52,000 allowance sprint. Swift Attraction was being evaluated by veterinarian Robert Copelan late Thursday.

Island Sand gets turf in return

Trainer Larry Jones is looking two weeks down the road for successful deployment of an angle that is very familiar to handicappers - turf to dirt. Island Sand will switch to the turf in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Saturday, when she returns from a layoff of nearly four months.

"Hopefully she'll run well Saturday and bounce out of it good," said Jones. "If she does, we're going to the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She'll be turf-to-dirt then. I like the angle. Hopefully it won't be the dumbest mistake I've ever made."

In her last three starts, all on dirt, Island Sand ran second in the Kentucky Oaks, won the Acorn, then ran third in the June 26 Mother Goose. She then was sidelined for an entrapped epiglottis.

"We had her operated on not once, but twice," said Jones. "She was back in training and entrapped again, so we had to go back in and fix it again. That's why she's been away as long as she has."

Jones said he believes Island Sand has an excellent chance to be competitive Saturday. "She's by Tabasco Cat, and his offspring run well on the grass," he said. "She's got some turf pedigree on her bottom side, especially with the second dam.

"We thought this was the best spot for her to come back in. Turf is generally easier on a horse, and we'd like to run in the Breeders' Cup if everything goes right."

Summer Mis tops small TCA field

Keeneland stakes coordinator Daniel Bork said he expects about six fillies and mares to start Sunday in the $125,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, the Grade 3 race that rounds out the week's stakes.

Summer Mis, who won the 2003 TCA Stakes over Don't Countess Out, will be back for the six-furlong race, along with My Boston Gal, My Trusty Cat, Our Josephina, Souris, and maybe Molto Vita.

The stakes schedule resumes Thursday with the Clark County, a turf sprint for fillies and mares.

Equibase begins data experiment

Equibase Company, the official record keeper for the North American racing industry, began its ambitious experiment of collecting data via radio transmitter with the first race Thursday.

Every starter carried a four-ounce transmitter in its saddlecloth. Using about 30 antennae strategically placed at points inside both the turf and main tracks, the running positions and times of the horses were transmitted to a computer that automatically registered data normally collected by human chart callers.

Equibase spokesman Chuck Scaravilli said the experiment began reasonably well, but that there is no target date for when such an arrangement might be regularly implemented.

* Owner Will Wolford said Honor in War, second in the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile here last Saturday, will be pre-entered in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

* Retired jockey Charlie Woods Jr. has become the agent for jockey Jeff Johnston, who will ride mostly at Churchill Downs, then Turfway Park, when the Keeneland meet ends Oct. 30.

* The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority will hold its monthly meeting Monday at Churchill at 1 p.m.