07/11/2006 11:00PM

A relaxed Commentator takes Mugatea effortlessly

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Adam Coglianese / NYRA
Commentator, under Eibar Coa, wins his comeback race on Wednesday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Jockey Eibar Coa had ridden horses against Commentator several times last year and thought him to be a very aggressive horse. So Coa was pleasantly surprised when a most relaxed Commentator took him on a successful 6 1/2-furlong jaunt around Belmont Park's main track Wednesday afternoon.

Making his first start since last September's Woodward, Commentator cruised to a 6 1/4-length victory in the $67,200 Mugatea Stakes for New York-breds. Commentator shrugged off early pace pressure from Bold Decision and a midrace challenge from Gold and Roses before pulling away in upper stretch. He ran the distance in 1:15.76 and returned $2.20 as the 1-10 favorite.

"I really thought he was going to be very aggressive and a horse that is going to pull me going fast," said Coa, who rode Commentator for the first time. "But he really surprised me the way he went. He broke fast, but he relaxed for me. I was able to do anything I wanted to him; when [Gold and Roses] got close to me, I pushed him and he just gave me that extra something."

Commentator, a 5-year-old gelded son of Distorted Humor, ran his record to 8 wins from 10 starts. In the Woodward, he aggravated a shin injury that first occurred in the Hal's Hope Stakes in January 2005. Last year, Commentator returned off that layoff to win a six-furlong sprint race and then the Grade 1 Whitney at nine furlongs over eventual Horse of the Year Saint Liam.

"I was impressed the way he drew away," trainer Nick Zito said from Saratoga. "When you add everything together it was a good race. The weather, the heat, how he had to come back, short race, decent horse he ran against, I thought it was very good."

Zito was noncommittal on whether he would keep Commentator sprinting or stretch him out again. Two Grade 1 races that Commentator could be pointed to - the seven-furlong Forego or the nine-furlong Woodward - are both run on Sept. 2 at Saratoga. Zito said he would not run Commentator back in the Whitney on Aug. 5.

Said Coa: "I don't know what Nick's plan is, but I really believe he can do whatever he wants with this horse. He might be able to have fun again with him this summer."

Bowling Green tempts Rochester

At age 10, Rochester is still going. Maybe not as strongly as before, but he's still going. Saturday, he may be going 1 3/8 miles against over Belmont's turf course in the Grade 2, $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap.

Jonathan Sheppard, the trainer of Rochester, sounded intrigued by the prospect of a small field for the Bowling Green. If the field remains small at entry time, Sheppard said there is a good chance he will ship the multiple graded-stakes winner and earner of more than $1.1 million to Belmont.

Rochester has not raced at Belmont since finishing eighth in the Knickerbocker Handicap when it was run here on Breeders' Cup Day in 2001. He has enjoyed most of his success in Kentucky, winning the Sycamore at Keeneland three times and the Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs twice. Sheppard is again targeting the Kentucky Cup Turf, run on Sept. 23.

Rochester has run once this year, finishing ninth of 11 in the Grade 3 Elkhorn at Keeneland on April 28.

"It came up particularly tough and he was trapped down on the inside, and he never liked that," Sheppard said. "I should have been more emphatic, I guess, with Robby Albarado. He rode him before, so I figured I don't have to tell him anything, he knows him. I should have reminded him to pull out when he went to make his move. We weren't going to win, but he may have been closer."

Sheppard said Rochester missed a little training time since that race due to "nagging little problems," but the gelding worked on Tuesday at Sheppard's farm in Pennsylvania. Sheppard said the horse worked approximately five furlongs in 1:03.

The field for the Bowling Green is expected to include Gigli, an 8-year-old, Request for Parole, a 7-year-old, and Go Deputy, a 6-year-old. Leadwithyourchin, a spry 4-year-old who is still eligible for second-level allowance conditions, is also expected.

Anew vs. Silver Train in Tom Fool

An intriguing match-up is on tap for Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap as reigning Breeders' Cup Sprint champion Silver Train takes on rising sprint star Anew in the seven-furlong race.

Silver Train, who is coming off a head victory over Sun King in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, has won his last four starts over Belmont's main track with Beyer Speed Figures of 108, 110, 114, and 112. On Tuesday, Silver Train worked five furlongs in 59.71 seconds at Aqueduct, where he is stabled.

"He's on top of his game," trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said.

He will have to be to run against Anew. Since being gelded during the winter, Anew is 4 for 4, including a sharp 3 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day.

On Tuesday, Anew worked four furlongs in 50.10 seconds over Belmont's main track.

Silver Train is the 121-pound assigned highweight, and Anew is in with 116 pounds. Others pointing to the race include Sir Greeley (116), Big Apple Daddy (115), War Front (115), and Mach Speed (113). Spanish Chestnut (116) and Voodoo (114) are possible.

Jones weighs options with 'Bettie'

Since he has Hello Liberty pointing to next month's Grade 1 Test at Saratoga, trainer Larry Jones is in a bit of a quandary when it comes to what to do with Prioress winner Wildcat Bettie B.

Jones does not want to run the two against each other, but there are limited opportunities for 3-year-old filly sprinters. Jones said he could look to run Wildcat Bettie B against males or older fillies and mares.

"Neither are options I prefer to do," Jones said Wednesday from Delaware. "I'll look around the country and see what there is. We're not ruling out the Test, but chances are I'll just run whichever one is doing the best. It's probably going to be Hello Liberty."

One option for Wildcat Bettie B could be the Grade 3, $100,000 Victory Ride Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24. That race is run at six furlongs.