Commentator was feted in the paddock and the winner's ring
between the fourth and the fifth races.
The winner of eight stakes including two Whitney Handicaps, the popular
New York-bred looked just a bit chubby under tack and the schlub on his back just
a little bit tacky. Someone please
explain why rider Carlos Correa couldn't have been handed a set of owner Tracy
Farmer's silks to wear.
Regardless, a smattering of applause greeted the new retiree
as he jogged down the stretch. A very brief
video played on the infield screens.
Mayor Scott Johnson presented the 8-year-old gelding with an edible
three-foot-long "Key to the City." Trainer
Nick Zito fed him. The cake was made of oats, molasses, honey and
peppermint. Then 10 horses took flight
in the first-ever Commentator Stakes.
Wesley Ward saddled the Commentator's winner Cannonball and
the meet's leading rider Ramon Dominguez rode him. Cannonball lost by a neck at
11-1 in the group I Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot the last time he ran.
This win was close again - by another neck - but it was his neck that got it.
The sixth race was named to toast Tara McCormick and Brian
Hostash. The couple was wed in a luxury
suite. McCormick was the one prancing
about in the white A-line halter top gown with lace bodice and bottom; Hostash
the one in the white three-piece monkey suit, top hat and sneakers. Oh, and as for the winner of the race, make
that Make Note, a son of Read the Footnotes.
Two graded stakes, each over 100 years old, headlined the
program. The 102nd running of
the grade III Saranac was won by Al Khali. The field was depleted a bit when
Lime Rickey was scratched, but the five horses that faced the winner had "flav-ah" anyhow. Most horseplayers expected Sal the Barber to
put up the stiffest competition. El
Crespo and Armstrong Hill had something to say about that.
Hot Dixie Chick won the 118th Spinaway Stakes
that followed immediately. A loser just
once in her brief four-race career, the 2-year-old filly by Dixie Union showed that she could do more than streak from
the gate and hang on. Breaking from the
rail, she settled in third after Bickersons and Beautician, then sprinted clear
of the pace-setters when necessary.
A crowd of 50,113 people was announced. The count was abetted, of course, by the
spinners. The final giveaway was a red
knit winter cap with the name Saratoga
in white on the front. It, like the three
other premiums this year, was a dandy.
You could see the end of the meet coming by just keeping
your eyes open. Horse transport trucks here
to collect cargo for Belmont
roamed Clare Court
incessantly. Fans began stripping ferns from
the restaurants and taking them home as souvenirs. The final day should be a free-for-all - free
admission to begin with.