He never ran in any Triple Crown races and he has yet — yet being the operative word — to hit the board in a Breeders' Cup contest.
Still, there are few horses that command the kind of respect Commentator does each time he steps onto a track.
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And in a sport where the brightest stars often depart before their talent is fully realized, the relentless 7-year-old still has his connections wondering if his best days have yet to be seen.
In the spirit of the holiday season, multiple Grade I-winner Commentator is providing fans with the ongoing gift of his presence as he headlines a field of eight entered in Friday's Grade II, $400,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
A winner of 13 of 20 career starts, including capturing the Grade I Whitney Handicap twice, Commentator is widely regarded as one of the most talented racehorses in recent years.
While his ability has earned immeasurable respect, it is his remarkable comebacks that have made him one of the more popular presences in any paddock.
Twice, the gelded son of Distorted Humor has come back from cannon bone fractures and, each time, he somehow improves on his previous form.
After winning only one start in 2007, Commentator has delivered four wins in five outings this year, including a 43/4-length romp in the $750,000 Whitney that came three years after he first won the prestigious race.
"He's a great horse, one of the best, to do what he has done to come back like he has," said his trainer Nick Zito, who counts Commentator as one of his all-time favorites. "It is a tribute to the horse, the owner, and the people in the stable.
"He's had a great year, and in popularity, he is one of the top horses in America."
When he is sound and on top of his game, Commentator boasts the kind of high-cruising speed that could run the best horses off their feet.
In his most recent start, the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap on Sept. 20, Commentator turned the 11⁄8-mile test into an exhibition when he drew off to win by a stunning 14 lengths.
However, the chestnut gelding can be as fickle as he is talented. If things don't go his way early on, he starts saving his strength for next time.
"It's the break. When he misses the break like he did in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint (a seventh-place finish), it's like he says 'To heck with it,'" his owner Tracy Farmer said. "It's either his race or no race."
If Commentator decides it's not his day in the Clark, there are several accomplished foes willing to steal his thunder.
Fellow hard-knocker Magna Graduate, a winner of more than $2.56 million in his career, captured the 11⁄8-mile Clark in 2005 and is coming off a 21/4-length win in the Grade III Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill on Oct. 26.
While he is a multiple Grade I winner on turf, the Helen Pitts-trained Einstein showed his form could translate on dirt when he ran second to reigning Horse of the Year Curlin in Churchill's Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on June 14.
"He's got some good works in him, he's doing good and we're going to take a shot," Pitts said. "I know he will give his 110 percent like he always does."
And barring another physical setback, racing fans can expect to see Commentator still giving it his all for at least another season.
"Honestly, I think he's getting better," Farmer said. "I've seen him work, and he loves it more, and he's much smarter."