ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2012)—As promised by trainer Peter Miller, Comma to the Top and Corey 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.

Live racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday. First post time is at 1 p.m.

~~~~~~~~~~~~QUOTES~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

JOCKEY QUOTES

COREY NAKATANI, COMMA TO THE TOP, WINNER: “The plan was to go to the lead. 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.”
Today is Nakatani’s 42nd birthday. Asked about a celebration, he said: “When you’re 42, it’s just another day.”

GARRETT GOMEZ, TRES BORRACHOS, SECOND: “The race went a little slower than I was hoping for. The idea today was not really to send him, just to try and let him get up on his feet and find him a place. We knew he probably wouldn’t be on the lead. We thought that Peter’s (Miller) horse would be on the lead because he was the fastest out of all of us. I felt myself in a nice little spot and had plenty of time to go get him, but I just couldn’t catch him. 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 (Miller) horse just wouldn’t back up enough, either. Today we were just second best.”

JOE TALAMO, JAYCITO, THIRD: “It was a tough race. Coming to the top of the lane the winner (Comma to the Top) had the race to himself because nobody really pressed him. He’s a nice horse, when he gets out there by himself he’s really tough to catch. I just let my horse run his race, and he did, he just got outrun.”

TRAINER QUOTES

PETER MILLER, COMMA TO THE TOP, WINNER: “He looked like the only speed but we were worried about it. 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. You can read the (Daily Racing) Form until your eyes pop out and the race comes up different.
“He’s almost at a million dollars (in earnings) and we paid $22,000 for him. He’s just my all-time favorite. He’s just a warrior, just a class act, smart, good around the barn and just a lot of fun to train.”

MARTY JONES, TRES BORRACHOS, SECOND: “He never gave up. A horse like that (Comma to the Top) 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.”

NOTES: The winning owners are Gary Barber of Los Angeles; Roger Birnbaum of Beverly Hills; and Kevin Tsujihara of La Canada.