INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 18, 2010)—Comma to the Top completed a memorable Autumn meet, collecting the biggest win of his career with a decisive score in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity on a rainy Saturday at Hollywood Park.
The victory in the Grade I was the third stakes success in six weeks for the 2-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding. It was also the fifth win in a row for the Florida bred, who could have been claimed for $40,000 when he debuted May 20 at Hollywood Park.
The 1 ¾ length decision over J P’s Gusto and eight others came after the start of the Futurity was delayed for about 30 minutes. The reason was Comma to the Top needed a replacement shoe for his right hind leg.
Once the 30th renewal of the Futurity was underway, Comma to the Top and jockey Corey Nakatani tracked the pace set by longshot High Level Jeff, took command around the turn and was not menaced in the final quarter of a mile.
Owned by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara and trained by Peter Miller, Comma to the Top has won six of 10 and earned $551,600.
Sixth in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity Sept. 8 in his only previous appearance in a Grade I, Comma to the Top ran the 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track in 1:44.18. The win was the first in the race for Nakatani and the second Grade I score of Miller’s career. The trainer had previously won the 2007 Del Mar Debutante with Set Play.
Prior to Saturday, Comma to the Top’s wins at the meet had come in the Real Quiet Stakes Nov. 6 and the grassy Generous Stakes Nov. 27.
Out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Maggies Storm, Comma to the Top, the 5-2 favorite, returned $7, $4.60 and $3.40.
A two-time stakes winner at Hollywood Park, J P’s Gusto finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of 19-1 outsider Clubhouse Ride. Runner-up in two of his three races at the Futurity distance, J P’s Gusto paid $4.80 and $3.80. The show price on Clubhouse Ride was $6.40.
Delta Jackpot winner Gourmet Dinner checked in fourth, a head behind Clubhouse Ride, then came Riveting Reason, Rustler Hustler, Slammer Time, Ronin Dax, Industry Leader and High Level Jeff.
“Wow, that was something’’ said Nakatani. “To run like that on top of everything that happened…he’s just an amazing little horse. We’ve been real patient with him because at Del Mar we knew he could go long.
“He started moving in the right direction as soon as he got two turns. It seems like he’s a young Lava Man. To me, he acts like it. He kicks away when you need him to. He’s a typical high cruising speed horse.
“The move on the turn felt great. It feels like you’re on a Ferrari. All this adversity is a plus because he handled it like it was just another day. Right now I would say he is one of the best 2-year-olds I’ve ridden.’’
Miller was apologetic for the delay and also very happy with the outcome.
“This horse is really good,’’ said Miller. “I told Corey that if someone sends he can sit. I worked him off horses the other day and he did great. And Nak just rode him perfect. When he made that move at the three-eighths pole, I’ve never had a feeling like that.
“After all the drama it’s just unbelievable. I do want to apologize to all the other owners and trainers. It was out of our control.’’
Although he did not threaten aboard Industry Leader in the day’s main event, Rafael Bejarano won four times, giving him seven victories in two days. He is second in the standings, trailing defending champion Joel Rosario 46-35.
The Autumn meet concludes Sunday. Post time is 12:30 p.m.
The final stakes race of the 29-day season is the $75,000-added On Trust Handicap. Amazombie and six other California breds will meet at 7 ½ furlongs on Cushion Track.
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