LOS ANGELES H.| PURSE: $100,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 3 | SIX FURLONGS
Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara's Comma to the Top wired the field as the 3-5 favorite in Monday's Grade 3, $100,250 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park.
The Peter Miller charge carried 121 pounds, three more than his next closest rival, but that did not seem to bother the five-year-old gelding who took control of the race early. His task was made easier by the scratch of projected pace rival Fast Bullet.
"When we found out that (Fast Bullet) scratched, we almost knew we were going to win," jockey Edwin Maldonado said. "We thought we had a good chance even if he stayed in because this horse likes to fight. I've seen him have competition before and come back on to win. He's just such an old pro."
Comma to the Top sped to the early lead on the inside and set fractions of :22 1/5 and :44 3/5. The bay drifted out some in the stretch but held gamely under some urging to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths. He crossed the wire in 1:09 for the six-furlong contest over the Cushion Track and paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10 to his backers.
"I liked it when they put that first fraction up (:22 1/5)," Miller said. "The track's dead today, but I figured :22 and change was good. He runs really well around the turn, so I felt really good."
Centralintelligence stalked the pace but could not catch the winner and had to settle for second, while Camp Victory was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Majestic City, Tiz Tee Time and Apriority rounded out the order of finish.
With this ninth career stakes score to his credit, Comma to the Top now boasts $1,293,406 in earnings from his 31-14-2-2 line. The bay earned three stakes victories as a juvenile in 2010 -- the CashCall Futurity, Generous and Real Quiet.
A gallant runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby in 2011, Comma to the Top took a swing at the Kentucky Derby, but trailed home last and exited the race with an ankle injury that required surgery. He returned to action in the fall of 2011, but won only one of three starts. Sidelined until last summer, Comma to the Top made a winning four-year-old debut in a turf sprint allowance at Golden Gate Fields, and followed up with a third in the Robert K. Kerlan Memorial at Hollywood Park.
Comma to the Top has since added stakes wins in the Pirate's Bounty over Del Mar's Polytrack, the Big Bear Handicap and the Daytona at Santa Anita, the March 2 Tom Fool at Aqueduct and the May 4 Cool Frenchy over the track last time out. He was also third in the San Carlos back in February.
"Now that we're focusing on sprint races we're kind of sharpening him up more than before," Miller said. "I believe we'll keep him sprinting the rest of the year and hopefully end up in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (November 2 at Santa Anita)."
Comma to the Top was bred by Richard and Linda Thompson in Florida, and first sold for just $5,000 as an OBS October weanling. At the same venue as a two-year-old in training in April 2010, the bay was purchased by Miller for $22,000.
The son of Bwana Charlie was produced by the Stormy Atlantic mare Maggies Storm, who is herself a half-sister to stakes winner Yes He's a Pistol. Comma to the Top's second dam is Grade 3 victress Maggies Pistol.