The Hollywood Gold Cup and Golden Itiz were the primary topics of conversation in the Ron Ellis stable at Hollywood Park Sunday.
Ellis said that Rail Trip came back in top shape from his convincing victory in the $150,000 Californian Stakes Saturday in a prep for his defense of the $500,000 Gold Cup on July 10.
“I wouldn’t call it easy but he’s headed in the right direction,” said Ellis of the 5-year-old gelding’s prospects of repeating in the Grade I Gold Cup, a handicap at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track.
Rail Trip seeks to become the first horse to sweep the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, The Californian and the Gold Cup since Eleven Stitches in 1981.
A more immediate goal for Ellis is a stakes victory in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap for 3-year-olds Saturday for Jay Em Ess stablemate Golden Itiz.
The Tiznow colt comes off an 11 ¼-length victory in an allowance/optional claiming race at the Affirmed distance of 1 1/16 miles here April 28. He broke his maiden at second asking in his previous start at 6 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita on March 20.
“So far, he’s done exactly what we’ve wanted,” said Ellis. “I was surprised he won sprinting because he’s a distance horse. But the good ones can do it.”
Golden Itiz worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 here Sunday. “He’s good to go,” said Ellis. Tyler Baze has the call back.
Expected to face Golden Itiz in the Grade III test are the John Sadler-trained duo of Distorted Dave (Rafael Bejarano) and Ranger Heartley, Sham and Snow Chief stakes winner Alphie’s Bet (Mike Smith), Mindblower (Alonso Quinonez), Skipshot (Joe Talamo) and Thomas Baines (David Flores).
Mindblower worked five furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Mike Puype.
Concord Point, Gallant Gent and Summer Movie head a list of possibles. Summer Movie, who is also under consideration for the Will Rogers Stakes on turf the following day, worked five furlongs in a bullet 59 for trainer Art Sherman.
PERIBAN HOPES TO MAKE GRADE WITH WHO’S UP
Veteran trainer Jorge Periban shoots for his first graded stakes victory with Who’s Up in the $100,000 Grade III Will Rogers Handicap for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf next Sunday.
“I started training in Laredo in 1983,” said the 50-year-old native of Mexico Sunday. “I came to the United States in 1987 and trained in Louisiana, Florida and Arkansas before I came to California. I started training here in 2004. I’ve won 500 races but never had the horses (for graded stakes competition).”
Periban hopes Who’s Up will be the first of many to win a graded stake. The Kentucky-bred chestnut won the Grade III Generous Stakes on turf here in November for trainer Kathy Walsh. He was turned out after that race and trained at the Pegasus Center in Washington during the winter.
After returning to finish a distant ninth in the Santa Anita Derby for trainer Mike Puhich in April, Who’s Up was turned over to Periban by owner M Racing.
“I picked him up the day after the Santa Anita Derby,” said Periban. “We picked the Will Rogers then as his return race. I feel he’s better on turf, and the timing is good.”
Who’s Up worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:11 here June 6 and drilled another six Sunday in company in 1:14 with jockey Victor Espinoza up.
Other probable starters include Arkansas Derby winner Line of David (Rafael Bejarano), Eddie Logan Stakes winner Macias (Martin Garcia), Alcatraz Stakes winner Hudson Landing (Russell Baze), Bogie (Alex Solis), Dream Nettie (Joe Talamo), Leroy’s Dynameaux (Joel Rosario), Ukandoit (Mike Smith) and Camp Victory.
Line of David worked seven furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:26.20 for trainer John Sadler. On turf, Bogie and Leroy Dynameaux eached worked six furlongs in 1:14.20 for conditioners Paddy Gallagher and Mark Glatt, respectively.
Hudson Landing worked at Golden Gate for trainer Bill Morey and is scheduled to be shipped to Hollywood Park on Tuesday.
APPRENTICE GONZALEZ OFF TO FAST START
Apprentice jockey Alex Gonzalez, the newest addition to the rider colony, is off to a quick start with two winners in his first four days here.
“I was pretty excited,” said Gonzalez of his auspicious debut as he made the stable rounds with agent Vince DeGregory Sunday. Showing his versatility, Gonzalez came from behind to win the eighth race Thursday with Milty Way for trainer Doug O’Neill and led all the way to win the fifth race Saturday aboard Rummysecret War for trainer Oscar Garcia.
Gonzalez, 18, won 61 races this year at Golden Gate Fields before heading south in hopes of following in the footsteps of Martin Garcia, who started his career there, and Joe Talamo and Christian Santiago Reyes, who earned Eclipse Awards as apprentice champion on this circuit.
“I was born in New Jersey and raised in Boston and West Virginia,” said Gonzalez. “My dad, Freddy—who was a jockey—moved to Florida, and when I wanted to learn to ride, I moved to Miami and began to ride at Calder.
“I rode my first winner at Calder last July and stayed there until November, when I moved to Northern California,” continued Gonzalez. DeGregory said that Gonzalez tacks 104 pounds and will have his five-pound bug until November.
*FINISH LINES—Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney’s Candy worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 for the $200,000 Swaps Stakes on July 17…Three candidates for the $100,000 Beverly Hills Handicap June 26 worked four furlongs each on turf: Value Stream in a bullet 47; Cat by the Tale in 49.80; and General Consensus in 51.60…Hollywood Oaks runner-up Blind Luck worked four furlongs in 47.60.
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