Peter Miller returns to Del Mar this Summer
As the defending training champion, Peter Miller captured the title at the prestigious summer meet in 2012. “It was a magical, magical season,” Miller said the day after last year’s meet ended. “It meant a lot to me because I live here, my wife (Lani) and I met here, and every summer since I was 8 years old I’ve come to Del Mar.”
That was the highlight of a year that saw Miller continue his rise as one of the nation’s premier trainers. His runners earned more than $3.6 million, a career-best total for Miller, and the fourth straight year Miller’s earnings increased from the previous year. He won a career-best 77 races.
The stable star during this rise has been Comma to the Top, who won the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity as a 2-year-old in 2010 and, in 2013, ranks as one of the nation’s elite sprinters. Comma to the Top, now age 5, has had a sensational first half of 2013, winning the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park, as well as the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct, the latter coming just seven days after he finished third in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita. He most recently finished second in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Comma to the Top has earned more than $1.3 million after being bought at auction for just $22,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company 2-year-old-in-training sale in April 2010. That’s quite the return on investment.
Miller recently scored the 400th win of his career, and he did it style, when Chief Havoc captured the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 4. Chief Havoc was winless in three starts when he joined Miller’s barn. Since April 4, he has won three times in four starts and has gone from a maiden to a graded stakes winner.
Miller’s other significant stakes winners in recent years include Reneesgotzip and Majestic City.
Reneesgotzip in 2012 won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez at Santa Anita and was second in three Grade 1 races -- the Santa Anita Oaks, Las Virgenes Stakes, and La Brea Stakes. In the La Brea, she finished in front of Eclipse Award winner My Miss Aurelia. Reneesgotzip also was a terrific third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2012. She has earned more than $500,000.
Majestic City, when trained by Miller, won the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship, was second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, and was third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.
Miller’s first Grade 1 win came with the filly Set Play in the 2007 Del Mar Debutante. Set Play was purchased for $105,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company 2-year-old-in-training sale in March of that year.
In 2012, after Del Mar, Miller finished third at Santa Anita’s fall meeting, and was third at Hollywood Park’s fall meeting. He also was second in purse earnings last year at Fairplex.
Miller is currently based at Hollywood Park, and races primarily on the Southern California circuit that comprises Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, and Del Mar. But, as he has shown with the likes of Comma to the Top and Majestic City, he will ship when the opportunity presents itself.
Miller was previously based at San Luis Rey Downs, where, before going out on his own, he would do the early prep work with runners who were bound for trainers at the major racetracks. Because of that experience, he is well-versed in teaching young horses their lessons, and bringing older horses back from layoffs. His barn houses everything from graded stakes performers to claiming horses, the backbone of the sport.
Miller first became interested in racehorses through his parents, who competed as Winning Ways Stable. Miller was first desirous of being a jockey, and went to a school for riding, but turned to training when doctors told him he would grow too big.
His first, full-time racetrack experience was as good as it gets, grooming horses for Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham, considered the greatest trainer in Southern California history. While working for Whittingham, Miller groomed such top-class horses as Greinton, who won the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap, and the top turf horse Palace Music, who became best known as the sire of two-time Horse of the Year Cigar.
Miller also gained experience working for trainers Mike Mitchell and Don Warren, and during a brief stint as racing manager for the legendary Golden Eagle Farm of John and Betty Mabee.