12/18/2010 10:03PM

Comma to the Top gets refitted for lost shoe, cruises in CashCall Futurity

Comma to the Top, under Corey Nakatani, wins his fifth straight race in the CashCall Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Well, that was worth the wait.

Comma to the Top, who delayed the start of the CashCall Futurity because of a protracted shoe repair, won the Grade 1, $750,000 race on Saturday at Hollywood Park to record his fifth straight victory and move to the top of the West Coast’s 2-year-old division.

 With jockey Corey Nakatani aboard, Comma to the Top ($7) seized command with a powerful move with three furlongs to go, had a 3 1/2-length lead at midstretch, then held off J P’s Gusto to win by 1 3/4 lengths. He was timed in 1:44.72 for 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track

Clubhouse Ride, who got bounced around badly on the first turn and was last early, rallied for third, a head in front of Gourmet Dinner.

Peter Miller trains Comma to the Top, a gelding by Bwana Charlie, for owners Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, and Stuart Tsujihara, all entertainment executives. It was the richest win of Miller’s career.

The race took place under the lights on a cold, rainy night, 25 minutes after its scheduled start. Comma to the Top was the cause of the delay. He lost his right hind shoe while walking over from the receiving barn, and then needed two farriers and a phone call from another trainer to get the shoe attached.

The first person entrusted with replacing the shoe was injured while appearing to be unsure of himself. “He was not going to be able to replace the shoe,” said Miller, who briefly tried to do the work himself before soberly realizing he was not suited to the task.

During the delay, Miller received a phone call from trainer Neil Drysdale, who did not have a horse in the race, but informed Miller that noted blacksmith Wes Champagne was at the races. Champagne rode to the rescue. He came to the paddock and attached a new right hind shoe on Comma to the Top, who by now was visibly upset.

“Wes saved the day,” Miller said. “I have to thank him and Neil Drysdale.”

Miller said he had no idea what to expect after the delay.

“After that, I didn’t know if he’d run,” he said.

Several trainers and owners were annoyed with the delay. David Hofmans, the trainer of J P’s Gusto, had a reasonable compromise, suggesting the other rear shoe be removed and Comma to the Top run that way, which is not uncommon.

But Miller wanted to have shoes on a track that was wet.

“I just felt like on this track he needed it,” Miller said. “I wanted to get that other shoe on. But I do want to apologize to all the other owners and trainers.”

Comma to the Top has now won 6 times in 10 starts.