Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Keven Tsujihara’s Comma to the Top looked on paper to be the only speed in the $66,000 Big Bear Handicap at Santa Anita Saturday and on the track, he didn’t look any different.
“He looked like the only speed in the race, but we were worried about it,” trainer Peter Miller said. “He can rate, but he looked like the fastest horse on form, but this business is so crazy you just never know.”
Breaking from post three with jockey Corey Nakatani aboard, the Florida-bred gelding went right to the front of the one mile Big Bear as the top weighted starter with 122 pounds, opening up a length and-a-quarter on the Bob Baffert-trained Jaycito under 119 pounds after a quarter mile in :23.48. As they approached the half-mile marker, it appeared jockey Joe Talamo on Jaycito wanted to edge closer to Comma to the Top after they went in :46.53 for the half-mile but around the turn, he shunned the challenge of Jaycito and began to race further ahead.
At the top of the stretch Comma to the Top was three lengths clear as Jaycito could not keep up but Tres Borrachos had swung to the outside and was making his run at the leader from between horses. Comma to the Top was clear of those two until midstretch when Tres Borrachos and Jaycito still looked to have a chance but at the wire it was Comma to the Top a half-length in front of Tres Borrachos and Garret Gomez with Jaycito in third, another neck back. Final time for the one mile over a fast track was 1:35.98.
“The plan was to go to the lead,” Nakatani said. “He’s got speed and that’s what he like’s best. I was a little concerned about his fitness today at this distance, but he was ready.”
Miller of course, was the man responsible for the readiness of Comma to the Top but he also spoke of the uncertainty of any race and then his fondness for the 4-year-old gelding.
“You can read the [Daily Racing Form] until you’re eyes pop out,” Miller said, “and the race comes up different.
“[Comma to the Top] is almost at a million dollars [in earnings] and we paid $22,000 for him. A horse like that gets on an easy lead on this track, it’s hard to catch him. I’m proud of my horse. He’s a hard trying horse; he shows up every time.”
Miller was referring to Comma to the Top being a graduate of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company 2010 April Sale of Two Year Olds in Training where he sold for $22,000 from the consignment of Indian Prairie Ranch. A son of Bwana Charlie, out of Maggies Storm by Stormy Atlantic, Comma to the Top was bred in Florida by Richard and Linda Thompson of Morriston.
As the 7-5 favorite, Comma to the Top paid $4.80 to win, $3.00 to place and $2.10 to show. Tres Borrachos paid $3.40 and $2.40 while Jaycito paid $2.40 to show.
Photo by Benoit