Comma to the Top
, a hard-hitting 4-year-old gelding who won the
Grade I Cash Call Futurity in 2010, and was subsequently second, beaten a
head, in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby the following spring, would
attain millionaire status should he win the Saturday's Grade III, $100,000 Daytona Stakes, which attracted a
field of 12.
Trained by Peter Miller and owned by Barber, Birnbaum and
Tsujihara, Comma to the Top comes off a hard-fought fourth, beaten a
length and a half, in the Grade III Vernon O. Underwood Stakes going six
furlongs on synthetic cushion track on Dec. 2. One race prior, on Oct.
21, he was an impressive gate to wire winner of the restricted Big Bear
Handicap going one mile at Santa Anita.
A $22,000 2-year-old in training purchase, the Florida-bred son
of Bwana Charlie has only run once before down the hillside, in the
Grade III Eddie D Stakes on Sept. 28, finishing fourth, beaten two
lengths at odds of 7-2. His earnings stand at $967,696 from a record of
24-10-2-1. A Daytona win would result in a paycheck of $60,000.
Great Mills, who pressed the pace and was a solid fourth in the
Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 3, has placed in a total of four
graded stakes, including a nose defeat in the Grade III Shakertown last
April at Keeneland, will be seeking his first graded victory in the
A 4-year-old homebred son of War Front, he’s owned by Millenium
Farms and is trained by Steve Asmussen. He retains the services of
Rafael Bejarano and will break from the rail in his second lifetime try
down the hill. Great Mills has earnings of $376,838 from a record of
Byrama, a highly regarded 3-year-old filly trained by Simon
Callaghan, is drawn between Great Mills and Comma to the Top and will be
facing males for the first time since she was a 2-year-old maiden in
her native England. She enters the Daytona fresh, having run a
fast-finishing second as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade III Senator Ken
Maddy Stakes on Oct. 20.
With Bejarano seemingly opting to ride Great Mills, Byrama will
embark upon the steep jump in class with Garrett Gomez, who will hope to
have plenty of early pace to exploit in the final furlong. Owned by
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Byrama is 3-2-0-1 down the hillside
course. She has an overall mark of 13-4-3-4 with earnings of $234,634.
Trainer Bob Baffert will be represented by Capital Account, who
bested Comma to the Top by a nose when running third in the Underwood.
Third in the Grade I Bing Crosby and a winner of the Grade II Pat
O’Brien Stakes on Polytrack last summer at Del Mar, the 5-year-old
Kentucky-bred son of Closing Argument was second, beaten a head in the
Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6, prior to running a
dull 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 3.
Owned by Thoroughbred Legends Racing, Capital Account will be
trying turf for the first time Saturday. He has earnings of $409,080
from a record of 12-5-3-3.
Trainer Jeff Mullins sends out a dangerous commodity in
Wilkinson, a 4-year-old by Lemon Drop Kid who has been idle since
winning the mile turf Grade III American Handicap on May 26 at Betfair
Owned by E.K. Gaylord II, Wilkinson will be reunited with Martin
Pedroza in the Daytona. He has three bullet works on his tab and was
clocked going five furlongs in 58.40 on Dec. 22 at Santa Anita, the
second-fastest move of 89 drills at the distance. His record stands at
18-5-3-3, with earnings of $336,994.
Trainer Blake Heap sends out the consistent Circa’sgoldengear,
who fell a neck short of registering his third consecutive win going six
furlongs on turf on Nov. 16. The 5-year-old California-bred gelding is
3-1-2-0 coming down the hillside and has an overall mark of 16-4-6-3,
with earnings of $238,672. He is co-owned by Heap and Earle Malley.
Tommy Town Thoroughbreds homebred Ain’t No Other never
threatened as the 6-5 favorite in the six furlong Oakland Stakes at
Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 15, finishing third, beaten 3 ¾ lengths in a
field of five. He has three good efforts down the hill to his credit,
including a third-place finish in the Grade III Morvich Stakes in Oct.,
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 4-year-old California-bred by Old Topper has earnings of $357,903 from a 21-7-6-5 mark.
The complete field for the Daytona, which will be run as the
eighth on a nine-race card, with jockeys and weights in post position
order: Great Mills, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Byrama, Garrett Gomez, 114;
Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani, 119; Starspangled Heat, Mike Smith,
119; Circa’sgoldengear, Joe Talamo, 119; Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder,
119; Capital Account, David Flores, 124; Guest Star, Victor Espinoza,
119; Red Sun, Julien Leparoux, 119; Wilkinson, Martin Pedroza, 121;
Ain’t No Other, Juan Hernandez, 119, and Tale of a Champion, Tyler Baze,