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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• VERSATILE COMMA TO THE TOP RETURNS IN PALOS VERDES
• ZENYATTA’S HALF-SISTER ENTERED THURSDAY AT SANTA ANITA
• STEVENS BACK AT WORK AFTER FIRST WIN IN SEVEN YEARS
• DWYRE HITS HOME RUN WITH LASORDA COLUMN
MILLIONAIRE COMMA TO THE TOP SET FOR SATURDAY’S PALOS VERDES
Dr. Fager in miniature--long, short, turf, dirt, synthetic--Comma to the Top handles it all. Racing’s newest millionaire is scheduled to make his next start in Saturday’s Palos Verdes Stakes rather than ship to Florida for the Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream Park the same day.
“He does it all,” said trainer Peter Miller of the winner of the Grade III Daytona Stakes on a wet/fast Santa Anita main track Dec. 29. “We’re going to run and Edwin Maldonado will ride him. The horse is doing super. We’ll step him up in class and see what he can do.”
The Palos Verdes is a Grade II event for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs. Comma to the Top, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Bwana Charlie, has won on dirt, synthetic and turf and at distances from 5 ½ furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth.
He was second by a head in the mile and an eighth Santa Anita Derby in 2011. His victory in the Daytona put his earnings at $1,027,696.
“We were considering the Sunshine Millions,” Miller said, “but we decided to stay home. We just thought it was a better slot for him here. We don’t have to ship and he likes this track.”
Comma to the Top worked a half mile on Betfair Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Sunday morning in 48.40 seconds. “It was super,” Miller said. “He was just breezing. He galloped out in a minute flat.”
Fast Bullet, whose only loss in four starts came to Trinniberg in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, will miss the Palos Verdes due to an abscess that was discovered Saturday, Bob Baffert said Sunday morning. In his most recent start, Fast Bullet won by 7 ¼ lengths as the 2-5 favorite at Hollywood on Dec. 6.
Palos Verdes nominee Capital Account worked four furlongs for Baffert in 47.80 at Santa Anita Sunday morning under Martin Garcia.
ZENYATTA’S HALF-SISTER ON THURSDAY’S SANTA ANITA CARD
Eblouissante, a half-sister to the great Zenyatta who won her first start at 1 1/16 miles by 4 ¼ lengths under Corey Nakatani at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 16, is entered in Thursday’s seventh race at Santa Anita.
Five horses were entered in the mile and one-sixteenth race. Eblouissante, owned by Eric Kronfield, is trained by John Shirreffs, who directed Zenyatta to 19 victories in her first 19 races before suffering her only defeat, to Blame, in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Zenyatta’s statue graces Santa Anita’s Kingsbury Fountain area.
“I worked her before I rode her,” said Corey Nakatani, who retains the mount on Eblouissante Thursday. “She’s a special filly.
“Hopefully, she comes back and runs like she did in her first race. I’m sure John has her spot-on, so I’m looking forward to riding her again.”
The seventh race: Double Ante, Joe Talamo; Viva Carina, Edwin Maldonado; Folk Dancer, Julien Leparoux; Pink Blossom, Alonso Quinonez; and Eblouissante, Nakatani.
STEVENS SCRATCHES SEVEN-YEAR ITCH WITH SATURDAY VICTORY
Gary Stevens looked like he didn’t miss a beat less than 24 hours after winning his first race since his retirement seven years ago.
The Hall of Fame jockey, who turns 50 on March 6, rode Branding to a 2 ½-length victory in Saturday’s first race for the Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor.
“It felt good,” Stevens said Sunday morning. “It’s been seven years since I crossed the finish line first, and it didn’t feel any different from my very first win. It was gratifying and it was for the right people and that made it even more special.”
Stevens had history on his side. He rode One Dreamer to a $96.20 upset in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Distaff for Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm and Tom Proctor.
“I rode for Mr. Lavin and Glen Hill Farm here in 1980 when I had the ‘bug,’” Stevens recalled. “They were supporters of mine. Johnny Adams was training for Mr. Lavin then, and the Proctor family came in. I rode for Hap, Willard, obviously, and Tom.
“They’re like family to me and I think the feeling’s mutual. We have a really special bond. We’ve stayed in touch over the years. We call each other at Christmas time, holidays, so other than riding a winner first time back for my dad (Ron), this was the next-best thing.”
DWYRE’S LASORDA COLUMN SPOT-ON
A tip of the Santa Anita hat to L.A. Times columnist Bill Dwyre, affectionately referred to by the late Jim Healy as “Journalist Bill,’ as he hit it out of the proverbial park in Sunday’s paper.
In a column centered on Dodger legend Tommy Lasorda, Dwyre shook some sizeable nuggets out of his gold pan courtesy of a day-long visit with Lasorda at The Great Race Place on Jan. 5.
A small sampling: “At (Sham Stakes) trophy-presentation time, Baffert’s horse wins, naturally. Lasorda presents the hardware to his new best friend. HRTV’S Kurt Hoover hands Lasorda the microphone with full knowledge he may never get it back. Lasorda is in full sales pitch in seconds. The Dodgers need fans and the game belongs to those fans, he says.
The fans love it, and him. There will be handful calling for Dodger tickets soon. He has blown his hot air and warmed their hearts. There is nobody better at it . . . ”
And, there is nobody better at what he does, than “Journalist Bill.”
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert turned 60 today but it was business as usual Sunday morning for the Hall of Fame trainer. “I went to bed 59 and woke up 60,” Baffert said as he supervised workouts on another uncharacteristically frosty morning in Southern California. How cold was it? Trainer Craig Lewis, who celebrated the 49ers’ 45-31 NFL playoff victory over Green Bay Saturday by wearing his 25-year-old 49ers’ jacket, said the temperature was 30 degrees when he got to the track before sunrise. “I went to college at UC Berkeley and the 49ers were right down the block,” Lewis said in explaining his affinity for the Bay Area team . . . Rafael Bejarano, Mario Gutierrez, Martin Pedroza and Iggy Puglisi escaped injury in riding mishaps yesterday and were expected to fulfill riding obligations today . . . Agent Brad Pegram reports that Mike Smith will ride Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Mucho Macho Man for trainer Katherine Ritvo in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream on Saturday. Mucho Macho Man won the race last year at Gulfstream . . . Last year’s Eddie D. Stakes winner Unbridled’s Note worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Sunday in 50.80. Trainer Steve Asmussen said the work was “good” but added he had no race in mind when asked what might be next for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up . . . Saturday’s fourth race was named in memory of longtime Thoroughbred industry executive and entrepreneur Jeff Sotman, who died last Nov. 28 at the age of 50 . . . With 154 players selecting 9-10 favorite Wine List to finish at least third in Saturday’s sixth race (he finished second), 613 advanced in ShowVivor . . . This correction e-mailed on the city where services are to be held Monday for the late Freddy Wilson: It’s Lawndale, CA, not Longdale.