Comma to the Top
led throughout to defeat five opponents in Monday's $100,250 Los Angeles Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The task for the 5-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding became considerably easier with the scratch of 2-1 morning line favorite Fast Bullet – reportedly due to illness – and the Florida bred did not disappoint as the 7-10 favorite.
With the 1 ¼ length victory, Comma to the Top became the 36th horse to win at least five stakes at Hollywood Park. The leader is Native Diver with 10.
Trained by Peter Miller for owners Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, Comma to the Top cleared easily under jockey Edwin Maldonado through a 22.37 opening quarter mile and held off Centralinteligence in the final sixteenth. He completed the six furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:09.11.
Comma to the Top, who won the Cool Frenchy Stakes May 4 in his first start of the Spring/Summer meet, has won 14 of 31 and earned $1,293,406.
Now 5-for-9 over Cushion Track, the Florida-bred, who is out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Maggies Storm, paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
“When we found out that (Fast Bullet) scratched, we almost knew we were going to win,’’ said Maldonado. “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.’’
Miller said Comma to the Top will stick to sprinting through the rest of 2013 with the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita the ultimate goal.
The runner-up finish by Centralinteligence was his second in a row in the Grade III after he chased Roman Threat in 2012. The 6-1 shot, who finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of Camp Victory, paid $4.60 and $3.20.
The show price on 7-2 second choice Camp Victory was $2.60. It was the third consecutive appearance in the L.A. Handicap for the 6-year-old gelding. He won – via disqualification – in 2011 and was also third last year.
Camp Victory was ridden by Joe Talamo, so the jockey’s streak of five consecutive stakes wins at Betfair Hollywood Park ended.
Majestic City, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Willard L. Proctor Memorial in 2011 who was making his first start as a 4-year-old, Tiz Tee Time and Apriority completed the order of finish.
Jockey Tyler Baze
moved into a tie for third in the rider standings with four wins Monday.
Baze, who won the first with Me Likey Mikey, the third with Pointsoffthebench, the seventh with Pulpit’s Express and the 10th with Ralphy Girl, and Edwin Maldonado both have 22 victories. Rafael Bejarano leads with 27, two more than Joe Talamo, who doubled Monday.Victor Espinoza
’s 9-1 upset with Doyouseemecoming in the eighth race left him one victory shy of a significant milestone. The veteran jockey has 2,999 career victories. He could reach 3,000 when racing resumes Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park. Espinoza is scheduled to ride Rosies Ready in the sixth and Fighting Hussar in the seventh.