While the spirits of the missing superstars Fusaichi Pegasus and Red Bullet were hanging over the homestretch, the 132nd Belmont Stakes was run yesterday with a cast of 11 horses of far less magnitude. And the one who got there first was one of the least likely: Commendable, 17th in the Kentucky Derby, without a victory in six races since his debut last August at Del Mar and an 18-1 long shot in the Belmont.
If any touch of greatness rubbed off on Commendable, it probably came through his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, who won the Belmont for the fourth time after losing it last year when Charismatic fractured a leg in the homestretch and missed sweeping the Triple Crown. It also was his 13th victory in a Triple Crown race, tying him for the record with the late Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons.
It also was a moment of success for his jockey, Pat Day, who won the race for the third time, and for his owners, Beverly and Bob Lewis of Los Angeles, who have won the Derby and the Preakness with Silver Charm and Charismatic in the last four years before those horses were thwarted in the Belmont.