07/31/2009 11:00PM

Commentator works like a young pup


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The sight of Commentator on the track always brings a smile to trainer Nick Zito's face. When Commentator works the way he did Saturday morning, the smile broadens.

Commentator completed preparations for his attempt at winning a third Whitney Handicap next Saturday with a four-furlong work in 47.85 seconds Saturday morning over the Oklahoma training track. Under regular exercise rider Maxine Correa, Commentator went in fractions of 11.61 seconds and 23.43 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.64.

"That was just beautiful," Zito said. "He was just galloping; he looked like he was going in 51."

Saturday's move came one week after Commentator ripped through a five-furlong move in 59.12 seconds, a work that Zito likened to a race.

Commentator, an 8-year-old New York-bred gelding owned by Tracy Farmer, won the Grade 1 Whitney in 2005 and again in 2008. He is seeking to join Kelso (1961, '63, '65) and Discovery (1934-36) as the only horses to win this prestigious handicap race three times in a career.

"He's an amazing horse, there's no question he's a treasure," Zito said. "It's a blessing to have an 8-year-old horse like this and have so many years of enjoyment with him, and certainly be one of the choices again, which I'm sure he will be."

Commentator is coming off a win in the Kashatreya, a New York-bred stakes on June 12, after losing his seasonal debut in the Charles Town Classic.

Among those expected to face Commentator are Arson Squad, Asiatic Boy, Dry Martini, Finallymadeit, and Smooth Air. Possible starters include Bullsbay, Researcher, Tizway and Vacation.

Ventura sharp in work

Shortly before Commentator breezed, Ventura, last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner, worked five furlongs in 1:01.49 over the training track. After going her first three furlongs in 38 seconds, Ventura came home in 23.49 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.

"Very nice," Ruben Loza, assistant to trainer Bobby Frankel said. "She always worked good."

Loza said he was not sure what race Frankel had in mind for Ventura, who has yet to race on dirt. Frankel is staying in California this summer due to an undisclosed illness.

Ventura has 8 wins and 7 seconds from 15 career starts, all made on turf or a synthetic surface. She has not run since April, when she was beaten a head by Informed Decision in the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland. Prior to that, she lost a head decision to Gio Ponti - the leading turf horse in the country - in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe at Santa Anita.

Ventura began her 5-year-old campaign this year with a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Monica at Santa Anita on Jan. 31. It is likely that Ventura will be pointed to a defense of her Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare sprint victory at Santa Anita in November. How she gets there is yet to be determined.

"[Frankel's] waiting for something, but I don't know what it is," Loza said.

Extra furlong for Dance Gal Dance

Dance Gal Dance, a demon at six furlongs, attempts to stretch out an additional eighth of a mile when she heads an eight-horse field entered in Monday's $80,500 Fleet Indian Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.

Dance Gal Dance, a daughter of Disco Rico, has 5 wins and 2 seconds from 7 starts, with all of her victories at six furlongs or shorter. In her lone try at seven furlongs, Dance Gal Dance was beaten 9 1/4 lengths by Northern Netti in the Bouwerie Stakes in May 2008. She emerged from that race with a knee chip that required surgery.

Dance Gal Dance returned with a second-place finish to J Z Warrior in the Glowing Honor, an open-company stakes, before she returned to the winner's circle against statebreds in an overnight stakes.

Her six furlong work in 1:12.40 over the main track here last Monday impressed trainer Tim Ritvo, who doesn't believe his filly is simply a front-runner.

"I think she'll run great," Ritvo said. "She's doing super, she's in the right spot. I think she's rateable, definitely not just speed crazy. She worked really well here the other day."

Doremifasollatido, winner of last year's Grade 2 Matron, returns to New York-bred company on dirt in this spot. She is coming off a fourth-place finish in a New York-bred turf stakes. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens adds blinkers to the filly's equipment in an attempt to turn her fortunes around.

"She breezed in them and it looked like she was a little bit more on the muscle," Jerkens said. "She needs to pick it up; she hasn't been quite the same this year for some reason, but I like the way she worked in them."

Jerkens also runs Karakorum Fugitive, who also makes the turf-to-dirt move and who shows a bullet half-mile work leading up to this.

Better distance for Golden Mexico

Also on Monday's card is the $70,000 Tap the Admiral Stakes for 3-year-olds, scheduled for one-mile on the turf. If it stays on the turf, Golden Mexico looms the one to beat.

Golden Mexico cuts back to one mile from the 1 1/8-mile Don Jack Stakes, where he finished sixth last out. Trainer Christophe Clement said the distance of that race was simply too far. He anticipates the cutback in distance will result in a livelier early for pace for Golden Mexico to close into.

"More pace should make him more rateable," said Clement, who also has Endymion entered.

If this race is moved to the dirt, Royal Vindication, second in the Rumson last out, becomes the one to beat.

Bulls and Bears gets educated

Trainer Rick Violette had every reason to still be frustrated over the fifth-place finish by Bulls and Bears in Thursday's Grade 2 Sanford Stakes. After all, the promising 2-year-old conceded his opposition about six lengths following an eventful start before rallying under Alan Garcia to finish just over a length behind race winner Backtalk.

"That was just brutal," Violette said. "He went into the air at the start, stumbled, and then ducked to the right, at which point Alan half lost an iron. He did just about everything after the break but turn around and go the other way."

Even with the unlucky beginning, Bulls and Bears recovered to move within easy striking distances of the leaders at the head of the stretch before ducking in again to lose his last chance.

"I liked the way he regrouped and didn't rush back into contention after the bad start," said Violette. "He got there under his own terms but then dove to the left when Alan hit him. He was very professional in his first start, but he's still a little green. He received a real education in the Sanford. Unfortunately it was too good an education."

Violette said it appears Bulls and Bears Came out of the Sanford in good order.

Violette said he'd likely point Bulls and Bears for the Grade 1 Hopeful on Sept. 7, closing day of the meet. He's also got the undefeated 2-year-old Not Macho Any More for the Saratoga Special on Aug. 20.

"Bulls and Bears was supposed to be in the winner's circle after the Sanford and I have high hopes for Not Macho as well," said Violette. "If he turns out to be as good as Bulls and Bears, we'll be very happy."

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch