05/29/2017 5:48PM

Weekend Hideaway by a nose in Commentator Stakes

Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo
Weekend Hideaway, with Luis Saez aboard, wins the Commentator Stakes by a nose.

ELMONT, N.Y. – For the second year in a row, it rained on Memorial Day and created a wet track at Belmont Park. And for the second year in a row, Weekend Hideaway used that to his advantage to pull off a mild upset in the $200,000 Commentator Stakes at Belmont Park.

Sent to the front immediately by Luis Saez, Weekend Hideaway held off Diversify by a nose to win the Commentator and become racing’s newest millionaire. It was 2 1/4 lengths back to Governor Malibu, who got third by a nose over Gypsum Johnny. Royal Posse, Empire Dreams, Eye Luv Lulu, Hit It Once More, and Loki’s Vengeance completed the order of finish.

The Commentator was the co-featured event on Monday’s Big Apple Showcase program, a card consisting of 10 races – six stakes – restricted to New York-breds. The card was dominated by trainer Chad Brown, who won three of the six stakes, but he didn’t have a runner in the Commentator.

The victory was the 12th from 39 starts for Weekend Hideaway and his eighth in a stakes race. The $120,000 first-place purse pushed his career earnings to $1,004,632. Weekend Hideaway is a 7-year-old son of Speightstown owned by Red and Black Stable and trained by Phil Serpe.

“Very proud of him, he’s one of those cool dudes to be around,” Serpe said.

In a race that looked to have plenty of early-speed types, Weekend Hideaway was able to open a 1 1/2-length advantage under Saez, running an opening quarter in 23.04 seconds and a half-mile in 46.04. Hit It Once More, under Kendrick Carmouche, and Diversify, the 2-1 favorite under Jose Ortiz who had shown speed in all four of his previous starts, were taken off the pace to stalk.

Turning for home, Hit It Once More had packed it in, but Diversify kept on persevering. When Weekend Hideaway drifted out in the stretch, Ortiz guided Diversify to the inside. Weekend Hideaway was tiring, and Diversify was grinding but just missed.

Weekend Hideaway covered the mile in the slop in 1:37.34, running a final quarter in 26.77 seconds, and returned $14.60. Last year, Weekend Hideaway returned $9.80 in a five-horse field.

“He deserved to win that – that was a fighting effort, with all due respect to Rick and his horse,” said Serpe, referring to trainer Rick Violette and Diversify.

Serpe said he thought the other riders may not have respected Weekend Hideaway on Monday, which was why he was able to secure the early lead relatively easily.

“I figured they thought this was a tougher division, obviously, than last year, and I think they said, ‘We’ll get him late,’ and one of them almost did,” Serpe said.

Violette said he thought the Commentator was a good race in which to experiment with Diversify and see how he would handle not being on the early lead.

“I didn’t want to go 22, 45 and set it up for everybody else, and that’s what would have happened,” Violette said. “I thought this was the perfect race to find out if he would rate; he’s been so one-dimensional. Nobody cooperated and pressed the other speed.”

Serpe said Weekend Hideaway likely will return to sprints for the remainder of the year but was noncommittal on where the horse would next run.