Comma to the Top and Mensa Heat, one-two finishers last out in the Pirate's Bounty Stakes at Del Mar, get a Sept. 28 rematch in the Eddie D. Stakes (formerly Morvich, gr. IIIT) on opening day at Santa Antia Park for the 2012 autumn meet.
East coast invader Unbridled's Note also ships in off a third-place finish in the Foxwoods King's Bishop (gr. I) to challenge a full field, as 13 turf contenders go postward at approximately 4:38 p.m. PST. The $100,000 Eddie D., named for retired Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, is contested at 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course. It is race eight on a nine-race card.
Comma to the Top, trained by Peter Miller, and Mensa Heat, who races for Doug O'Neill, last started Sept. 5 at Del Mar going six furlongs on the all-weather track. In the Pirate's Bounty, Comma to the Top swung three wide into the stretch after stalking in third and gained the lead in upper stretch, kicking clear to a 1 3/4-length score. Mensa Heat, closing three-wide from fourth, finished well to gain the place late.
It was Comma to the Top's first stakes win for Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, and Kevin Tsujihara since taking the 2010 CashCall Futurity (gr. I).This year the 4-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding returned from a six-month layup due to an ankle injury with a June 6 Golden Gate Fields allowance win, finished third in the Robert K Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park July 1, and was fourth in the Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar July 29. Comma to the Top has a 4-2-0-1 record on turf, but has never run down Santa Anita's unique hillside layout.
Mensa Heat, owned by Randall Ho, Westside Rentals.com, and O'Neill, seeks his first win since the 2011 On Trust Handicap at Hollywood last December. The 6-year-old gelding by Unusual Heat won the Pirate's Bounty last year, but has yet to see the winner's circle in 2012. He has two seconds and two thirds in 2012, including completing the trifecta in the Jan. 21 Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) at six furlongs on the dirt at Santa Anita.
Also in the Pirate's Bounty was Reddam Racing's fourth-place finisher Boxeur des Rues, who hasn't won since last May. O'Neill, coming off a 40-day suspension issued by the California Horse Racing Board, trains this 4-year-old Smart Strike colt as well.
Unbridled's Note, a 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song, comes West for owner Mike McCarty and trainer Steve Asmussen after his third in the King's Bishop and a third in the July 29 Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course. An allowance winner going seven furlongs in the Churchill Downs slop June 16, the colt is a big question mark but may favor the lawn. He raced unsuccessfully at Oaklawn Park and has only won at Churchill, where he broke his maiden last October.
While contention runs deep in the 13-horse field, California-bred Red Sun would appear to rate a solid chance for trainer Carla Gaines, who will also saddle Swift Thoroughbreds' Shrug, winner of the Aug. 15 Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar. Red Sun, a 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. He is a lightly-raced but 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.
Kretz Racing's Tale of a Champion, the Bobby Umphrey Sprint Stakes winner July 7 at Calder Casino & Race Course but sixth last time out in the Aug. 26 Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) for trainer Kristin Mulhall, and Calimonco , fifth in the Del Mar Mile whose last win came back in April in the Sidd Finch Stakes at Santa Anita, are other former stakes winners looking to get back on track. John Sadler trains Calimonco for Martin J. Wygod and Ballena Vista Farms.
Allowance winners Canuletmedowneasy, Chosen Miracle (unraced since February), Koast, Octane, and maiden winner Crimson Giant complete the field.
$100,000 Eddie D. Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:38 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Crimson Giant (CA), M. Linares, 115, C R Stutts
2. Chosen Miracle (FL), A. Quinonez, 118, J Hollendorfer
3. Calimonco (KY), M. Garcia, 118, J W Sadler
4. Koast (KY), R. Bejarano, 118, J W Sadler
5. Shrug (KY), V. Espinoza, 118, C Gainse
6. Comma to the Top (FL), M.A. Pedroza, 118, P Miller
7. Boxeur des Rues (KY), M. Gutierrez, 118, D F O'Neill
8. Octane (KY), D.R. Flores, 118, B Headley
9. Red Sun (CA), J. Talamo, 118, C Gaines
10. Tale of a Champion (KY), G.K. Gomez, 118, K Mulhall
11. Mensa Heat (CA), J.J. Hernandez, 118, D F O'Neill
12. Canuletmedowneasy (FL), E.A. Maldonado, 115, M Glatt
13. Unbridled's Note (KY), C.S. Nakatani, 115, S M Asmussen