Comma to the Top seeks to punctuate a banner Autumn Meet by turning a question mark into an exclamation point with a victory in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 18 at Hollywood Park.
Rising from a maiden win in $50,000 claiming company to a graded stakes winner, Comma to the Top seeks his fifth straight victory in his first grade I attempt. Thirteen 2-year-olds are expected to compete in the 1 1/16-mile race on Cushion Track.
Comma to the Top, a Florida-bred gelding by Bwana Charlie, aims for his third stakes win at the meet after scores in the Real Quiet on the main track and Generous (gr. IIIT) on turf in his previous two outings. Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, and Kevin Tsujihara own Comma to the Top.
Trainer Peter Miller again expects to see Comma to the Top in his customary position of setting the pace under Corey Nakatani.
“He’s the speed in my mind,” said Miller after the gelding worked five furlongs in :59 2/5 Dec. 12. “He could rate, but I think he’s faster than the other horses.”
Miller explained the name. “One of the owners’ young kids was learning to write and couldn’t say apostrophe,” he said. “Comma to the Top is slang for apostrophe.”
A 44-year-old native of Los Angeles, Miller hopes to cap a sizzling meet with a Futurity victory. Miller has recorded nine firsts, two seconds, and nine thirds with 26 starters, for a 35% win rate.
The 40-year-old Nakatani seeks his first Futurity victory after four seconds and three thirds in previous efforts.
Listed as probable for the 30th running of the Futurity: Comma to the Top (Nakatani), J P's Gusto (Joe Talamo), Clubhouse Ride (Patrick Valenzuela), Industry Leader (Rafael Bejarano), Awesome Patriot (Victor Espinoza), High Level Jeff (Joel Rosario), Boxeur des Rues (Julien Leparoux), Gourmet Dinner (Sebastian Madrid), Rustler Hustler (Ramon Dominguez), Crimson China (Garrett Gomez), Riveting Reason (Alonso Quinonez), Ronin Dax (Mike Smith), and Slammer Time (David Flores).
Comma to the Top was joined on the Dec. 12 work tab by Awesome Patriot, who worked five panels in :59 4/5 for trainer Bob Baffert, the leader in Futurity wins with five.
Gourmet Dinner and Rustler Hustler are scheduled to be flown to Southern California Dec. 14 from Florida. Gourmet Dinner won the rich Delta Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) in Louisiana in his last start for trainer Steve Standridge. Rustler Hustler has won his last two stakes on turf at Belmont and Monmouth for conditioner Rick Dutrow.
Crimson China, a recent acquisition by Team Valor International, is scheduled to also arrive Dec. 14 from England. The Giant's Causeway colt has won one of two starts on all-weather tracks there.