INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 5, 2010)-Rail Trip, whose biggest win came in the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup, will make his long awaited return to action in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on Saturday at Hollywood Park.
The first prep for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, which will be run for the 71st time on Saturday, July 10, the LeRoy is a Grade II at 1 1/16 miles. It is the fifth of nine races on a card that begins at 1 p.m.
Rail Trip will have six opponents in the race named to honor of one of Hollywood Park’s organizers and its president for 34 years until 1985.
Owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable and trained by Ron Ellis, Rail Trip is a 5-year-old Jump Start gelding out of the Carson City mare Sweet Trip.
A winner of six of nine with earnings of $787,790, Rail Trip has been idle since finishing third, beaten by one length, as the 5-2 favorite in the Pacific Classic last Sept. 6 at Del Mar.
This effort came nearly two months after his 9-1 surprise in the Gold Cup, the first Grade 1 victory of his career. He won by three lengths over Tres Borrachos with a pace pressing journey.
No worse than second in five starts at Hollywood Park while winning three times, Rail Trip will be making his second appearance in the LeRoy. He was second as the 3-5 favorite in 2009, losing by 1 ¼ lengths to longshot Ball Four.
Rail Trip, who will carry top weight of 121 pounds and break from post 5, will have a new jockey on Saturday. Rafael Bejarano replaces Jose Valdivia, Jr., who is now riding regularly at Delaware Park.
Tres Borrachos, who has earned all of his career wins at Hollywood Park, including an 11-1 upset in the 2008 Swaps Stakes, is drawn directly inside of Rail Trip.
Trained by Beau Greely for a partnership that includes breeders John Greely IV and Phil Houchens, the 5-year-old Ecton Park gelding has won three of 24 and earned $593,682.
Fourth in his three most recent races, Tres Borrachos will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who won the Mervyn LeRoy with Molengao in 2007.
Dakota Phone will be looking to end a winless streak that spans more than 17 months. His last victory came in the Forty Niner on Nov. 28, 2008 at Golden Gate. He has lost 13 in a row, but has finished second or third in five graded stakes during that period.
Third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths in last year’s LeRoy, Dakota Phone has only been off the board once in six tries on the Hollywood Park main track. Owned by John Carver, Halo Farms and George Todaro and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 5-year-old gelded son of Zavata has won four of 25. His bankroll stands at $437,810. He will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze.
Second as the favorite in the Santana Mile on April 10 at Santa Anita, Slew’s Tiznow will be trying to stay perfect on the Hollywood Park main track. He won the War Chant in his only previous race here on Nov. 27, 2008. Joel Rosario has the call for owner-breeder Joseph Lacombe and trainer James Lloyd.
Here is the complete field for the 31st running of the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap: Dakota Phone, Tyler Baze rides, 117 pounds; Sangaree, Martin Pedroza, 115; Slew’s Tiznow, Joel Rosario, 114; Cigar Man, Joe Talamo, 114; Tres Borrachos, Victor Espinoza, 114; Rail Trip, Rafael Bejarano, 121 and Art Currency, Mike Smith, 113.
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