06/27/2013 4:10PM

Hollywood Park: Comma to the Top won't back down if challenged in Triple Bend

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Comma to the Top earned a fan in jockey Edwin Maldonado when the gelding won the Tom Fool Handicap by a nose at Aqueduct on March 2.

Watching from Southern California, Maldonado was impressed the way that Comma to the Top fought off persistent challengers through the stretch.

“It was the way he did it,” Maldonado said. “He had horses inside and outside of him and fought back and won. He never had a chance to relax.”

The same scenario could occur when Comma to the Top starts in Saturday’s $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park. The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup’s Win and You’re In Program, offering a fees-paid berth to the BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in November.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

The Grade 1 Triple Bend is run over seven furlongs, and will be a test for Comma to the Top. The race has drawn an excellent field of nine, including last year's winner, Camp Victory, and the Grade 1 winners Drill, Jimmy Creed, Morning Line, and Rail Trip.

Comma to the Top won the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity over 1 1/16 miles here in 2010, but has thrived in sprints in the last six months.

Since Comma to the Top’s win in the Grade  3 Tom Fool Handicap over six furlongs, Maldonado has ridden him to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita in April and consecutive wins here in the Cool Frenchy Stakes over five furlongs on May 4 and the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap over six furlongs on May 27.

[HOLLYWOOD PARK: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s full card live]

Trained by Peter Miller, Comma to the Top was third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes over seven furlongs on Feb. 23, his last attempt at that distance. Considering the 5-year-old’s recent form, Maldonado is confident Comma to the Top is capable of winning on Saturday.

“I would think it would be easier for him,” Maldonado said of the distance. “We can wait for them to come to him. He likes a fight.”

The closers will be coming. While Comma to the Top may be the dominant front-runner, there will be plenty of talented runners in pursuit, notably Camp Victory, Jimmy Creed, and Rail Trip.

Camp Victory is winless in five starts since the 2012 Triple Bend, and was third in the Los Angeles Handicap. Rail Trip has not started since finishing second in the BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita last November.

Jimmy Creed won two sprint stakes at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting – the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in December and the Potrero Grande Stakes.

Trainer Richard Mandella considered sending Jimmy Creed to the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park on May 27 but skipped the race when the 4-year-old worked poorly.

“He had a bad work and I couldn’t explain it,” Mandella said. “I couldn’t put him on a plane when I wasn’t impressed with the work. I think he had a bad day, but he’s come back to do great. I would expect him to run at his best.”