05/27/2013 5:20PM

Hollywood Park: Comma to the Top scores in Los Angeles Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Comma to the Top, with Edwin Maldonado aboard, wins the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Comma to the Top lost a fellow pacesetter for Monday’s $100,250 Los Angeles Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park when Fast Bullet was scratched the morning of the race because of illness.

Comma to the Top lost the rest of his competition in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap shortly after the start.

Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Comma to the Top took the lead a few strides into the six-furlong race and never was troubled, winning the ninth stakes of his career by 1 1/4 lengths.

“When [Fast Bullet] scratched, we knew it would let Comma to the Top be by himself,” Maldonado said. “It was a matter of getting him to relax. He’s a pro.”

Sent off favored, Comma to the Top ($3.40) set fractions of 22.37 and 44.78 seconds, leading by 2 1/2 lengths on the turn and 3 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining. Centralinteligence closed the gap in the final furlong but could not reach the winner.

“I liked 22 and change,” trainer Peter Miller said of the opening quarter-mile time. “I think the track is playing a second slow. He’s always been a good turn horse. He cruises home. He makes me nervous in the last sixteenth.”

Comma to the Top was timed in 1:09.11. Centralinteligence finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Camp Victory, the winner of the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap here last summer. Majestic City, Tiz Tee Time, and Apriority completed the order of finish.

Centralinteligence and Camp Victory were second and third in the 2012 Los Angeles Handicap behind Roman Threat.

Comma to the Top gave owner Gary Barber his third win in the Los Angeles Handicap in the last five years. He won with Red Arrow in 2009 and Cost of Freedom in 2010. Barber is the winningest owner in the history of the Los Angeles Handicap. He co-owns Comma to the Top with Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsuhijara.

Comma to the Top has won three stakes this year, including the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct on March 2 and the Cool Frenchy Stakes here May 4. A 5-year-old gelding by Bwana Charlie, Comma to the Top has won 14 of 31 starts and $1,293,406.