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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• MILLER NOT SMITTEN WITH DERBY FEVER FOR COMMA TO THE TOP
• ROSARIO WILL WING IT ON DON TITO IN GRADE II POTRERO GRANDE STAKES
• HOLLENDORFER HAS HALL OF FAME CREDENTIALS
COMMA TO THE TOP SET FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY, BUT LOUISVILLE IS OUT
Even if Comma to the Top wins the Santa Anita Derby on April 9, trainer Peter Miller won’t be on his cell phone making reservations for Louisville on May 7.
“The horse is doing good for the Santa Anita Derby,” Miller said. “He breezed good on Wednesday (four furlongs in :49.40 at Hollywood Park) and came out of the work good. I’ll work him back on Tuesday.
“But we were never on the (Kentucky) Derby trail, really. The media had it all ‘Derby this and Derby that.’ I don’t think he’s a mile and a quarter horse. His strong suit is speed and we’ll be on the lead (in the Santa Anita Derby).”
Comma to the Top had been 50-1 in the third and final Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Future pool that runs for three days starting today, but was removed from the roster of wagering interests after Miller confirmed to a track official that the horse will not be entered in the Kentucky Derby.
Comma to the Top has been in front at some point in each of his 12 starts save two. He won the Grade I CashCall Futurity but faded to fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the El Camino Real Derby and was fourth by 9 ½ lengths behind Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe Stakes on March 12 in his two races as a 3-year-old. He has $471,000 in graded earnings so a spot in the Run for the Roses was assured on that basis.
But putting a peso on the Florida-bred gelding in a Kentucky Derby Future Book bet would have been a waste of money in Miller’s mind.
“Unless I felt had a real chance in the Kentucky Derby, I don’t have to go just for the mint juleps,” Miller said. “I can get them at my local bar.”
Meanwhile, Jaycito’s status for the Santa Anita Derby was still on hold Friday morning.
“I’m going to have a talk today with (owner) Ahmed Zayat and then we’re going to decide,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “We have to work over the weekend. A lot depends on the work whether we stay here or ship (for the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, also on April 9).
“The Factor is definite for the Arkansas Derby (on April 16). He looks good.” Baffert added that 2010 Santa Anita Handicap winner Misremembered is ticketed for the $350,000, Grade II Oaklawn Handicap on April 9.
Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Anthony’s Cross, Joel Rosario; Bench Points, Rafael Bejarano; Celestic Night, Joe Talamo; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani; Indian Winter, Patrick Valenzuela; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith; Offlee Wild Boys, no rider; Premier Pegasus, Alonso Quinonez; and Silver Medallion, Garrett Gomez.
Premier Pegasus is scheduled to work at 8 o’clock Saturday morning for Myung Kwon Cho with Quinonez up, while Indian Winter is set to go five furlongs Monday under Valenzuela for Jerry Hollendorfer.
Anthony’s Cross, Premier Pegasus and Silver Medallion are alive for the Preakness $5.5 bonus. One of the three would have to win the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness for his connections to collect the prize.
ROSARIO FLEXIBLE ON DON TITO FOR SUNDAY’S POTRERO GRANDE
Joel Rosario has a simple and succinct plan for Don Tito in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs. Santa Anita’s leading jockey has ridden the 4-year-old son of Trippi trained by John Sadler twice, winning once and finishing third the other time.
“I’ll listen to Sadler’s instructions before the race,” Rosario said, “and when the gates open, I’ll listen to the horse.”
Don Tito has a 3-0-2 record from eight starts. He is seeking his first stakes victory.
The Potrero Grande field: Atta Boy Roy, Vicky Baze; Amazombie, Mike Smith; Chocolate Candy, Corey Nakatani; Don Tito, Joel Rosario; Captain Cherokee, Joe Talamo; M One Rifle, Chantal Sutherland; Crown of Thorns, Rafael Bejarano; Colgan’s Chip, Brice Blanc; Ventana, Martin Garcia; and Bet On Victor, Patrick Valenzuela.
HOLLENDORFER AWAITS ENTRANCE TO HALL OF FAME
It catches most horsemen by surprise that Jerry Hollendorfer is not in the Hall of Fame already. His credentials certainly warrant it, but this year marks the very first time Hollendorfer has ever been nominated and it would be no surprise to see him emerge as one of four winners that will be announced on May 13. The induction will take place Aug. 12 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., site of the Hall of Fame.
Dan Ward feels the oversight will be imminently resolved.
“You just have to look at who’s already in the Hall of Fame,” said Ward, who has been with Hollendorfer for four years after serving a 22-year term with the late Bobby Frankel. “Everybody who is in the top 10 all-time in wins, and everybody who’s in the top 10 all-time in money won, is in already, except for Hollendorfer.”
The 64-year-old Hollendorfer ranked fourth in all-time victories with 5,863 and eighth all-time in earnings with $119,141,280 through 2010. He has been in the top 10 in wins for 24 straight years (1987 through 2010) and in the top 10 in earnings 12 times.
A fixture now in Southern California, Hollendorfer has been the dominant trainer in Northern California since the mid-1980s. He won the training title at every major Bay Area meet from 1986 through 2008, recording 37 straight titles at Bay Meadows and 32 consecutive at Golden Gate Fields.
Other finalists this year are jockeys Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez, John Velazquez and Alex Solis; trainers Gary Jones and Robert Wheeler; and horses Open Mind, Safely Kept and Sky Beauty.
FINISH LINES: Awesome Gem is scheduled to make his 8-year-old debut Saturday in a one-mile grass race at Golden Gate Fields. “I wish I had a barnful like him,” trainer Craig Dollase said of the Grade I-winning son of Awesome Again, who has earned more than $2.2 million in 39 career races. “He’s a warrior.” If all goes well after Saturday’s race, Dollase plans to run Awesome Gem in the $1 million Charlestown Classic on April 16, a race in which he was second last year . . . Sir Beaufort Stakes winner Sidney’s Candy worked four furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Friday in :48.60 for John Sadler.