Trainer Billy Lakeland had received the filly Emma C. as a gift from James R. Keene. After racing her with some success, Lakeland sent the mare to Keene's great sprinter Domino in 1897, the year the stallion died. One of only nineteen named foals by The Black Whirlwind, Emma C.'s colt was acquired by Keene the following year.
Commando matured slowly, and did little to impress Keene during his early training under James G. Rowe, Sr., who had replaced Billy Lakeland at Castleton Farm, but when the colt made his debut in June of 1900, he easily won the Zephyr Stakes. He took the Great Trial Stakes only five days later, and then annihilated the field in the Montauk Stakes, winning by eight lengths.
Given a month off, Commando came back to win a hard fought Brighton Junior Stakes by a head from Olympian, to whom he conceded thirteen pounds. In September he was eased as he won the Junior Champion Stakes at Gravesend while carrying 127 pounds. Olympian, carrying 107, was third.
In his final juvenile effort, Commando finished second in the Second Matron at Morris Park, suffering a ride described by Turf, Farm, and Field as "stupid carelessness; he literally threw the race away." The Daily Racing Form chart simply stated "poor ride."
Commando so dominated his division in 1900 that he was recognized not only as the champion juvenile, but as Horse of the Year as well.
Commando returned to the races in 1901 with a score in the Belmont Stakes, holding off The Parader to win by a half length. After cantering to victory in the Carlton Stakes, beating Blues by four lengths, he was entered in the Lawrence Realization Stakes. Commando took the lead after a mile, and was apparently on his way to another loafing victory when he broke down in the stretch, and was passed by The Parader. He hung on for a game second before coming back lame.
Having won seven of his nine starts, earning $58,196 and two Horse of the Year titles, Commando was retired to stud. As James Rowe remarked, "As a race horse, we never knew how good he was, as nothing could extend him."
Standing at Castleton Farm, Commando sired only twenty seven foals, ten of which were stakes winners, including multiple stakes winner Kuroki; 1907 Belmont Stakes winner and champion three-year-old colt Peter Pan; 1908 Brooklyn Handicap winner Celt, who was leading sire in 1921; and the great Colin, undefeated in fifteen starts and twice Horse of the Year; before his brilliant stud career was cut short when he died of tetanus in March of 1905.
Commando became a Hall of Fame member in 1956.
|Domino||Himyar||Alarm||Eclipse by Orlando|
|Lizzie G.||War Dance|
|Mare by Lecomte|
|Emma C.||Darebin||The Peer||Melbourne|
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