“The race proved to be just as popular as Eddie D.,” said Santa Anita Racing Secretary and Vice President of Racing Rick Hammerle. “Let’s hope this is a good omen for the entire meet.”
Comma to the Top, a hard-hitting 4-year-old gelding trained by Peter Miller, figures to get plenty of pari-mutuel attention and is expected to show his customary early zip in the Eddie D. The Kentucky-bred son of Bwana Charlie is in top form, having prevailed by 1 ¾ lengths over 10 rivals in the 6 ½ furlong Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 5.
Prior to the Pirate’s Bounty, Comma to the Top was a close-up fourth in the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes going six furlongs at Del Mar on July 29.
Second in last year’s Santa Anita Derby and last in the Kentucky Derby, Comma to the Top has a 4-2-0-1 record on turf, but has never run down Santa Anita’s unique hillside layout.
Owned by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, Comma to the Top sports a lifetime record of 21-9-2-1, with earnings of $916,096.
Trainer Steve Asmussen sends out perhaps the biggest question mark in the 13-horse field in Unbridled Note, who will try turf for the first time Friday and comes off a troubled third in Saratoga’s Grade I King’s Bishop Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on Aug. 25.
The Kentucky-bred colt by Unbridled’s Song has an impressive 2 ¾-length win over a sloppy track to his credit three starts back at Churchill Downs on June 17, which could be an indication that he’ll take to the grass. Owned by Mike McCarty, Unbridled Note has a 6-2-0-2 record and $135,741 in earnings.
While contention runs deep in the 13-horse field, California-bred Red Sun would appear to rate a solid chance for trainer Carla Gaines. The 6-year-old Harris Farms homebred gelding by Redattore overcame a one-year layoff to finish second, beaten a half-length while attending the pace in a first-condition allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Del Mar Aug. 30.
Lightly raced, Red Sun is a perfect two for two down Santa Anita’s hillside layout and has an impressive overall record of 9-5-2-2 with earnings of $227,988. He too figures to be on or near the lead Friday.
In addition to Red Sun, Gaines will also saddle Shrug, a winner of the $93,000 Green Flash Handicap at five furlongs on the turf at Del Mar on Aug. 15. Although he has never run down the hill, he possesses a versatile style that should serve him well. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Medaglia d’Oro is one for two on turf and has an overall record of 15-4-2-1 with earnings of $190,380.
Trainer John Sadler will also send out a pair, Koast, who was fourth, beaten only a half-length in Del Mar’s Green Flash and Calimonco, who never threatened while running fifth in the Grade II Del Mar Mile (turf) Handicap on Aug. 26.
Koast, who retains the services of top rider Rafael Bejarano, is a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Lawyer Ron. He’s two for two over the course and has the necessary speed to attend and/or make the early pace. Koast is owned by Hronis Racing and has a career record of 8-3-0-2, with earnings of $128,566.
Calimonco is a turf veteran, who at age six will be making his 34th career start on Friday. Reunited with jockey Martin Garcia, who guided him to a second-place finish two starts back in Del Mar’s one mile Wickerr Stakes on July 25, Calimonco was third in his only start down the hill on Jan. 9, 2010. Bred in Kentucky by Pam and Martin Wygod, he is owned by the Wygods and Ballena Vista Farm.
The complete field for the Eddie D Stakes, carded as the eighth on a nine-race race program, with jockey and weights in post position order: Crimson Giant, Modesto Linares, 115; Chosen Miracle, Alonso Quinonez, 118; Calimonco, Martin Garcia, 118; Koast, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Shrug, Victor Espinoza, 118; Comma to the Top, Martin Pedroza, 118; Boxeur des Rues, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Octane, David Flores, 118; Red Sun, Joe Talamo, 118; Tale of a Champion, Garrett Gomez, 118; Mensa Heat, Juan Hernandez, 118; Canuletmedowneasy, Edwin Maldonado, 115; Unbridled’s Note, Corey Nakatani, 115.