04/16/2009 11:00PM

Commentator still looks scary


From what trainer Nick Zito can tell, Father Time hasn't caught up with Commentator just yet. The Hall of Fame trainer will get a better idea if he's right when Commentator makes his 8-year-old debut in Saturday night's Charles Town Classic.

With a tiered purse structure that starts at $500,000 and goes up to $1 million for a Grade 1 winner, the Charles Town Classic drew seven graded stakes winners among its 10-horse field. The Charles Town Classic headlines an 11-race card that includes five stakes events.

Commentator, a two-time winner of the Whitney Handicap, will try to surpass the $2 million mark in career earnings. Though Commentator has not run since finishing third as the 2-5 favorite in the Clark Handicap at Churchill last Nov. 28, Zito is happy with the way the New York-bred gelding is doing coming into this race.

"You think every year of him losing a step, but he looks like he's picked things up again,'' Zito said. "He has had a pretty good winter. It would have been nice if we could have got a race, but he is Commentator. When he's right, he's, very, very, very, very good. I'm hoping he gives a great effort.''

Commentator, whose 12 career victories have come by an average of 10 1/4 lengths, will break from post 6 under John Velazquez and carry 123 pounds. He figures to be the dominant speed in this 1 1/8 mile race, which will be run around three turns.

Mast Track is the other Grade 1 winner in the field, but he will breaking from post 10 and will be attempting dirt for the first time. Julien Leparoux rides for owner/trainer Bobby Frankel.

If there is a horse that can upset Commentator, it just may be the local hope, Researcher. Researcher has won 6 of 10 starts at Charles Town, including a 22 1/4-length victory on March 28 in which he set a track record of 1:49.76 for 1 1/8 miles. Trainer Jeff Runco is hoping the home-field advantage helps his 5-year-old gelding.

"I would definitely have to think the home-field advantage will help him some, how much I don't know,'' Runco said.

Dry Martini could be an off-the-pace threat for Barclay Tagg.

:: (DRF Plus)