Comma to the Top Cuts Back in Underwood

Comma to the Top, who earned the most significant victory of his career at Betfair Hollywood Park, will cut back in distance when he faces multiple graded stakes winner Smiling Tiger and five others in the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes Sunday.

A Grade III at six furlongs over Cushion Track, the Underwood is the eighth of nine races. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Track gates will open at 10 a.m. for simulcasts.

Owned by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara and trained by Peter Miller, Comma to the Top won three stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in a span of six weeks in 2010, including the Grade I CashCall Futurity.

The 4-year-old gelded son of Bwana Charlie and the Stormy Atlantic mare Maggies Storm has won 10 of 23 and would become a millionaire with a win in the Underwood. He’s banked $961,696.

Comma to the Top has won three of six in 2012, including a half-length victory as the 7-5 favorite in the restricted Big Bear Handicap at one mile Oct. 21 at Santa Anita.

Trained by Jeff Bonde for owners Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz, Smiling Tiger is winless in four starts this year, but does come off a third place finish at nearly 21-1 in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 3. The 5-year-old finished three lengths behind winner Trinniberg.

A son of Hold That Tiger and the Cahill Road mare Shandra Smiles, Smiling Tiger has won eight of 22 and earned $1,420,704. Three of his wins have come in four starts over the Betfair Hollywood Park main, including a 3 ¼ length victory in the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap in 2011.

If Comma to the Top is going to win for a fourth time over Cushion Track and Smiling Tiger is going to snap a six race losing streak, they are going to have to defeat a foursome – Bank the Eight, Capital Account, Fast Bullet and Smash – from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won this race in 1992 with Gundaghia.

Owned by Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable LLC, Bank the Eight returned from 3 ½ months on the sidelines to win an optional claimer by 5 ¾ lengths in his Cushion Track debut Nov. 10.

A 5-year-old Distorted Humor horse out of the A.P. Indy mare Zori, Bank the Eight has won five of 10 and has a bankroll of $161,590. This will be his first appearance in a graded race.

Twelfth of 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Capital Account is undefeated in two local starts, defeating maidens in his career bow June 26, 2010 and winning an optional claimer June 22.

Owned by Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, the 5-year-old son of Closing Argument and the Private Account mare Accountess has won five of 11 and earned $397,080. He won the Grade II Pat O’Brien Handicap in August at Del Mar.

Fast Bullet, who finished sixth in the BC Sprint, has won two of three for Zayat Stables LLC. The 4-year-old Speightstown colt out of the Dayjur mare Renfro Valley has earned $55,800. He won an allowance race by 3 ¾ lengths as the 3-10 favorite in his lone try at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 12, 2011.

Smash, who has won three of four over Cushion Track, will be making his first start in more than 11 months for Kaleem Shah, Inc.

A 4-year-old son of Smart Strike and the Dixieland Band mare Dixieland Holiday, Smash has won three of six and has earned $137,400. He has been idle since finishing seventh in the Grade I Malibu last Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.

Completing the field is Private Zone, who finished second in the Damascus Stakes Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. The 3-year-old Macho Uno gelding out of the Siphon mare Auburn Beauty has won three of 13. Doug O’Neill trains the Canadian bred for Great Friends Stable.

From inside out, the field for the 32nd Vernon O. Underwood Stakes: Capital Account, David Flores rides, 124 pounds; Smash, Martin Garcia, 114; Fast Bullet, Joe Talamo, 114; Smiling Tiger, Rafael Bejarano, 122; Bank the Eight, Garrett Gomez, 118; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani, 120 and Private Zone, Martin Pedroza, 116.



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Older Comments about Comma to the Top Cuts Back in Underwood...

I think Smash or Fast Bullet will take a huge step forward in this one and just dominate the field.

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