05/25/2013 1:18PM

Hollywood Park: Speed duel likely in Los Angeles Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Fast Bullet has won three of his four starts and will try for his first stakes victory in the Los Angeles Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A speed duel between Fast Bullet and Comma to the Top in Monday’s $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park may be unavoidable and will be a key factor in how handicappers assess the six-furlong race.

Both 5-year-olds are best when racing on the lead early and could set a blazing pace in the Grade 3 race.

“I’m not going to change his style,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Fast Bullet. “He just goes. He’s fast.”

Comma to the Top already is a stakes winner here this month, having taken the $80,000 Cool Frenchy Stakes on May 4. He led throughout that five-furlong race.

“The horse is a fighter,” jockey Edwin Maldonado said. “There is no reason for him to take back. He doesn’t quit.”

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Fast Bullet has won 3 of 4 starts, with his only loss a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita in November. Fast Bullet won an optional claimer here Dec. 6, suggesting that he would be a factor in the sprint division over the winter.

Fast Bullet did not start at Santa Anita but has worked quickly for Baffert in recent weeks.

“I was waiting for him to get right,” Baffert said.

Comma to the Top, who has won 13 of 30 starts, was not fully extended in the Cool Frenchy after Maldonado geared him down in the final furlong. Comma to the Top still won by 1 3/4 lengths for trainer Peter Miller.

Fast Bullet and Comma to the Top are part of a field of seven for the Los Angeles Handicap. If they run too fast early, a duel would greatly help the chances of closers such as Apriority, Camp Victory, and Centralinteligence.

Apriority, trained by Baffert, was third in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on April 6. “He’ll be coming from off the pace,” Baffert said.

Camp Victory was third in the 2012 Los Angeles Handicap and won the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs here last June. A 6-year-old gelding, Camp Victory is winless in his last four starts.

Centralinteligence, second in the 2012 Los Angeles Handicap, was fourth in the Cool Frenchy, his first start since a sixth in the 2012 Triple Bend. Trainer Ron Ellis said Centralinteligence may race just behind the leaders from his No. 6 post.

“He’s not a true closer,” Ellis said. “He should be in a stalking position. The post should help.”