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Grade 1 Winner Comma to the Top Is 6-to-5 Favorite in El Camino Real Derby
Comma to the Top, winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, will try to become the third straight favorite to win the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby when he faces five rivals in the Grade 3 feature for 3-year-olds Saturday at Golden Gate Fields.
Seven horses were entered in Northern California’s Triple Crown prep race, however,
Anthony’s Cross was scratched from the race Friday morning. Based in Southern California, Anthony’s Cross is staying home to run in the $250,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita.
Comma to the Top is a 6-to-5 favorite on the morning line to capture the 30th running of the El Camino Real Derby, a race in which the favorite is 11-for-29. Connemara ($4.60) won the race as the 6-to-5 betting choice last year and Chocolate Candy ($3.00) scored as a heavy 1-to-2 favorite in 2009.
Comma to the Top finished his 2-year-old campaign with five straight victories, a streak that began with a pair of wins at Golden Gate Fields. Trained by Peter Miller, Comma to the Top has won three straight stakes and is the No. 4 ranked 3-year-old in the nation by Daily Racing Form.
“It’s very exciting,” said Miller of training a contender for the Kentucky Derby. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m trying not to get overly excited because we all know how difficult this business can be. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride and take it one day at a time.”
Comma to the Top, like Anthony’s Cross, was entered in both the El Camino Real Derby and the Robert Lewis. Miller said he chose to run Comma to the Top in the El Camino Real Derby for a couple of reasons.
“First, I know he likes that racetrack,” said Miller, who is based at Hollywood Park. “He’s 2-for-2 over it. Second, it’s probably a little bit easier competition up there than down here.”
Miller also acknowledged that Comma to the Top’s two victories at Golden Gate Fields last October appeared to get the gelding back on track after back-to-back losses at Del Mar.
“Those two races turned things around for him,” said Miller. “I’d like to share him with the people of the Bay Area because I feel his turnaround began with those two races at Golden Gate. I think it was a matter of getting him confidence and letting him figure out what we wanted him to do.”
Comma to the Top appears to have figured everything out, and the gelding has trained superbly for the El Camino Real Derby. His workouts leading up to the race include a six-furlong drill in a very quick 1:10 2/5.
“He’s doing it easy,” said Miller. “He’s never felt the whip in the morning. It’s been nice. The horse likes to run. He thrives on racing and training.”
Comma to the Top will break from the rail under jockey Corey Nakatani. Owned in partnership by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, Comma to the Top has six wins and a second in 10 career starts and $551,600 in earnings.
The field for the El Camino Real Derby, in post position order with riders and morning-line odds, is as follows: Comma to the Top, Nakatani rides, 6-to-5; Bluegrass Reward, Juan Hernandez, 15-to-1; Formula Gold, Hector Romero, 30-to-1; Silver Medallion, Russell Baze, 5-to-2; Positive Response, Julien Couton, 7-to-2; and Jakesam, Frank Alvarado, 8-to-1. All of the starters will carry 121 pounds.
Positive Response, trained by William E. Morey, is coming off victories in the Gold Rush Stakes and California Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Morey said Northern California’s leading 3-year-old is going into Saturday’s race very sharp.
“He’s doing great, he’s feeling great,” said Morey of Positive Response. “It creates a lot of excitement when you have a Grade 1 winner in the race. We’re in for a true test, that’s for sure. I think this race is kind of the telltale race as to where we go from here.”