11/26/2004 12:00AM

Jock agent has odds-on entry


The most dominant figure at Turfway Park in recent years has not been a particular owner, trainer, or jockey. Instead, it has been jockey agent Steve Elzey, who seemingly could sell ice to Eskimos.

At various times, Elzey has worked for Willie Martinez, Kris Prather, and Rafael Bejarano, all of whom easily won Turfway riding titles. And although Elzey had a bitter parting earlier this month with Bejarano, who joined the jockey boycott at Churchill Downs and now rides in New York, he certainly has landed on his feet. In fact, it would be something of a surprise if Elzey did not have the top two riders at the Turfway holiday meet that begins Sunday: Ramsey Zimmerman and Dean Sarvis.

Zimmerman, whose 302 victories this year rank him fourth in North America, is the consensus favorite to lead the standings after overwhelming the competition at Fairmount Park and Hoosier Park. Sarvis, who broke the River Downs record for victories this summer and has been enjoying a solid Churchill meet, ranks 16th in wins with 215.

Zimmerman has ridden sparingly in recent weeks, having injured several ribs in an October spill at Hoosier, but Elzey said the jockey has been pointing to the Turfway meet and will ride nearly a full load in the Sunday opener.

"I've been pretty lucky to get these guys," said Elzey. "We've got a lot of live business lined up, so hopefully they'll get a chance to show what they can do."

Commentator wows 'em again

It would be difficult for any racehorse to be more impressive than Commentator was Thursday at Churchill Downs. With Pat Day never asking him at any point, the unbeaten gelding cruised to yet another dazzling victory, beating seasoned stakes-caliber rivals by eight lengths and earning an eye-popping Beyer Speed Figure of 110.

His trainer, Nick Zito, was among the awed. "He made it look so easy," said Zito. "I don't know what to do with him next. My first thought is just to go easy and protect him and think about next year."

Zito said he would think about the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, but added, "You know, that's really not me, to go out to California. I'd like to stick closer to around here. But we'll see. You can't rule out anything with this horse. He's shown he can run anywhere and do about anything. He's a hell of a horse."

Commentator, a New York-bred 3-year-old gelding owned by Tracy Farmer, now has won his five starts by a combined 42 lengths.

Indiana man earns Vegas berth

Ron Mitchell of Jeffersonville, Ind., won the Churchill handicapping finals on Wednesday. Mitchell won the $5,000 top prize by finishing with the top imaginary bankroll, and perhaps more importantly, earned a berth in the $400,000 Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association Handicapping Championship finals in Las Vegas on Jan. 21-22.

Laurine Matheson and John Grieshaber, both of Louisville, finished second and third.

Churchill taking online reservations

Churchill is taking reservations online for next Thanksgiving Day. Online requests do not ensure seating because of high demand, but they are the first step in securing seating.

For more information, log onto www.churchilldowns.com/visit.

* Tom "T.T." Roberts, who trained horses for the past 20 years in Kentucky and Ohio, died Tuesday as the result of an accident at his farm. He was 56. Burial services were scheduled for Saturday in Richwood, Ky.