As promised by trainer Peter Miller, Comma to the Top
Nakatani went straight to the lead in Sunday’s featured $65,000,
one-mile Big Bear Handicap at Santa Anita, and the 4-year-old
Florida-bred gelding never relinquished command, winning by a
half-length while getting the distance in 1:35.98.
“The plan was to go to the lead,” said Nakatani, who also
celebrated his 42nd birthday on Sunday. “He’s got speed and that’s what
he likes best. I was a little concerned about his fitness today at
this distance, but he was ready.”
When asked about the likelihood of a birthday celebration, Nakatani responded, “When you’re 42, it’s just another day.”
Comma to the Top, who was a close fourth in the Grade III Eddie D
Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course on Sept. 28, was
dispatched as the 7-5 favorite. He broke from post position number
three in the five-horse Big Bear and set fractions of 23.48, 46.53,
1:10.31 and 1:22.75.
A winner at two of the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood
Park, he paid $4.80, $3.00 and $2.10. With the winner’s share of
$39,600, the son of Bwana Charlie, who is owned by Gary Barber, Roger
Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, boosted his earnings to $961,696 from a
record of 23-10-2-1.
“He looked like the only speed but we were worried about it,”
said Miller. “If they went, he would sit. He can rate, but he looked
like the fastest horse on form, but this business is so crazy, you never
know…He’s almost at a million dollars and we paid $22,000 for him.
He’s my all-time favorite. He’s just a warrior, just a class act, good
around the barn and just a lot of fun to train.”
Tres Borrachos, who at age seven had the distinction of being the
Big Bear’s elder statesman, tried valiantly under Garrett Gomez, but
had to settle for the place, a neck in front of 4-year-old Jaycito, who
chased the winner to the half-mile pole.
“I felt myself in a nice little spot and had plenty of time to
get him, but I just couldn’t catch him,” said Gomez. “I thought I was
going to get the leader a couple times but I couldn’t get my horse to
level off enough to get it done, and Pete’s horse just wouldn’t back up
enough, either. Today we were just second best.”
Tres Borrachos made his 42nd career start in the Big Bear and
paid $3.40 and $2.40.
Jaycito, a winner of the Grade I Norfolk as a 2-year-old, finished 8 ¼
lengths clear of the fourth-place finisher, Shaun Washington. Jaycito
paid $2.40 to show.