07/26/2013 2:32PM

Del Mar: Comma to the Top at best distance in Bing Crosby


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DEL MAR, Calif. – In the last year, Comma to the Top has won six stakes at four distances on synthetic tracks and dirt tracks in California and New York. During that span, he has thrived over six furlongs, winning three stakes at the distance.

Success over the standard sprint distance makes Comma to the Top the one to beat in Sunday’s $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes over six furlongs at Del Mar. A win would affirm Comma to the Top’s standing among the nation’s top sprinters, and it would be his first win in a Grade 1 since the CashCall Futurity in December 2010.

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The durable Comma to the Top has won 3 of 7 starts and $315,710 this year, with victories in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Stakes over six furlongs at Aqueduct in March and two stakes at the spring-summer meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park – the Cool Frenchy Stakes over five furlongs on May 4 and the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap over six furlongs on May 27.

In the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs June 29, Comma to the Top was second to Centralinteligence, leading to the eighth pole.

“I think he’s better off going three-quarters now,” trainer Peter Miller said.

Comma to the Top is part of a field of six in the Bing Crosby, which includes the recent Grade 1 winners Goldencents and Jimmy Creed. The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth to the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in November. The fees also could be used to offset costs to enter other Breeders’ Cup races, such as the Sprint on the main track.

Comma to the Top races for Hollywood film executives Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, and Kevin Tsujihara. A winner of 14 of 32 starts and $1,343,406, Comma to the Top is quick, but could face an early challenge Sunday from Northern California invader Coach Bob, an outsider who drew the rail.

[DEL MAR 2013: Complete meet coverage, schedule, race replays]

“We don’t need the lead,” Miller said. “We’ve won from off the pace. The way the track has been playing for speed, we’ll send out and get a position.”

If Comma to the Top turns into the stretch with the lead, he will need a full effort to hold off the stalkers and closers. Goldencents, who won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby but was 17th in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness Stakes, makes his first start in a sprint since winning a maiden race here over 5 1/2 furlongs last September.

Goldencents, who will wear blinkers for the first time, has had quick workouts in recent weeks for his first start since the Preakness on May 18.

“We put him away for a bit, and he came back strong,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “Getting back to one turn, we’ve worked him with blinkers. He’s always been brilliantly fast.”

Jimmy Creed, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes last December but last of eight in the Triple Bend, is a threat from the back. Points Offthebench, a winner of 4 of 6 starts, makes his stakes debut in the Bing Crosby and is likely to race as a stalker, as will Majestic City, a two-time stakes winner in 2011.

Jimmy Creed lost a shoe at the start of the Triple Bend, his first start since a win in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes at Santa Anita on April 6. The Bing Crosby is Jimmy Creed’s first start at six furlongs since a ninth in the BC Sprint at Santa Anita last November. Sunday’s distance will be a key test, trainer Richard Mandella said.

“If we’re going to consider the Breeders’ Cup, we need to find out,” Mandella said. “He’s a pro now.”