Commentator wins MassCap

BOSTON -- Heavily favored Commentator won the 66th Massachusetts Handicap by 14 lengths on Saturday, beating an overmatched field over 1 1-8 miles at Suffolk Downs.

Won Awesome Dude placed and Cuba came in third to share the $500,000 purse.

Jockey John Velazquez rode Commentator to the wire in front of a crowd of 17,172, adding the 7-year-old gelding trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito to a list of winners that includes Seabiscuit, Whirlaway and Cigar.

Following the plan he discussed with Zito, Velazquez let Riversrunrylee take the lead as they made their first pass in front of the clubhouse, running alongside his rival's shoulder on the outside. Commentator pulled even at the half-mile mark and took the lead at the far turn.

The chestnut gelding pulled away over the last one-quarter mile, making it eight lengths with an eighth of a mile to go, and 14 at the finish line as Commentator finished in 1 minute, 48 4-5 seconds.

The biggest race in New England, the MassCap was shuttered for two years in 2005-06 because of financial difficulties before Brass Hat won last year before a crowd of 19,191 -- the largest at Suffolk Downs since Cigar won its second straight in '96.

The MassCap winner earns a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but Commentator already qualified for the Oct. 25 race at Santa Anita by winning the Whitney Handicap in July. Zito, a vocal opponent of synthetic tracks, would not commit to the Breeders' Cup, but he said he would bring Commentator back to Saratoga for a try at a third straight Whitney.

Suffolk Downs, 9th Race - September 20, 2008