12/29/2012 8:46PM

Santa Anita: Comma to the Top goes over $1 million mark with Daytona score

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Benoit & Associates
Edwin Maldonado, a late substitute for an injured Corey Nakatani, guided Comma to the Top to victory in the $100,000 Daytona Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - With a new jockey, Comma to the Top was up to his old habits on Saturday, racing bravely on the lead to win the $100,000 Daytona Stakes on a wet-fast main track at Santa Anita.

Comma to the Top won his sixth stakes in the Daytona, and surpassed $1 million in career earnings. He has earned $1,027,696 in his 25-race career.

Jockey Edwin Maldonado rode Comma to the Top for the first time, replacing Corey Nakatani, who took off his mounts in the middle of the afternoon after being involved in a spill. The Daytona was Maldonado’s third win of the day.

Maldonado had Comma to the Top on the lead from the start. They set a quick pace of 21.78 and 44.16 seconds, and won by 1 3/4 lengths over 14-1 Clubhouse Ride, the longest shot in a field of five. Ain’t No Other, who was near Comma to the Top early, finished third, followed by Capital Account and Wilkinson.

The race was originally scheduled for about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, but was reduced to five after morning rain led to a surface switch. There were six scratches after the surface switch was announced.

Maldonado and trainer Peter Miller discussed having Comma to the Top on the lead in the Daytona.

“He said, ‘Ride your race,’” Maldonado said. “It worked out perfect.”

Comma to the Top raced well off the rail in the stretch, which Maldonado said was by design.

“The idea was to drift out into the best part of the track,” he said.

Owned by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, Comma to the Top is a 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Bwana Charlie. He won the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity in 2010. In 2011, he was second in the Santa Anita Derby and was 19th in the Kentucky Derby after being near the early pace.

This year, Comma to the Top has won four races, including the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar in September and the Big Bear Handicap here in October.