Trainer Ron Ellis said Thursday from Barn 52 North that he was happy with post six in a field of seven in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Saturday for Rail Trip, who defends his crown in the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track.
“The post is perfect,” said Ellis, who will be outside the other two horses who have shown speed, Compari and Tres Borrachos. “If the race was run on paper, I think we would be sitting third. But as you know, they’re not run on paper.”
Ellis thinks he is bringing a fresher, stronger, more mature horse to the Gold Cup this year. “He’s doing real well,” said Ellis after the 5-year-old gelding jogged on the main track. Rail Trip makes only his third start of the year after an eight-month layoff. Last year the Gold Cup was his eighth start in eight months.
Rail Trip comes off easy victories in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap and The Californian and seeks to join Eleven Stitches in 1981 as the only horse to sweep the series. He also seeks to join Native Diver and Lava Man as the only multiple winners in the 71-year history of the race.
Rail Trip was assigned high weight of 123 pounds, seven more than when he won the race by three lengths last year. “I’m not happy with the weights, but what are you going to do?” said Ellis. “Richard’s Kid beat us at equal weights in the Pacific Classic last year, and I’ve got to give him two pounds.”
Rail Trip will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano. The Kentucky-bred son of Jump Start has won eight of 11 starts and earned $967,790 for Mace and Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable.
The Gold Cup will be run as the eighth of ten races. Post time is approximately 4:35 p.m.
After wilting in a New York heat wave earlier in the week, Gayego was happy to adapt to the cooler weather at Hollywood Park for the $250,000 Grade I Triple Bend Handicap at seven furlongs Saturday.
“It’s great!” said Rick Mettee, United States assistant for Godolphin Racing, of the weather during a cool drizzly morning. “Everyone here is complaining, but this is beautiful. His color looks better here in 36 hours. He looks brighter.”
Gayego, stabled at Belmont Park where the thermometer hovered around 100 degrees at the beginning of the week, left Long Island Tuesday morning and arrived here around 3 p.m. that day after stops in Kentucky and Ontario airport.
“He had yesterday off and cantered this morning,” said Mettee. “I was happy. He warmed up very well and grabbed the track really good. He’ll do the same thing tomorrow.”
The Triple Bend is a homecoming of sorts for Gayego, a 5-year-old horse who is unbeaten in two starts on this track. He broke his maiden here at first asking in November, 2007, and won again in November, 2008, for trainer Paulo Lobo before being sold privately to Godolphin at the start of 2009.
Winner of the Arkansas Derby in 2008, Gayego returned to California last autumn to win the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita and finish fourth in a four-way photo finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint there. He was shipped to Dubai for the second straight winter and finished eighth in the Golden Shaheen Stakes in his last start March 27.
Gayego will leave from post four in a field of eight under high weight of 122 pounds for trainer Saeed bin Suroor and jockey Rafael Bejarano. He has won seven of 16 starts and earned $1,459,620.
The Triple Bend will go as the sixth race. Post time is approximately 3:35 p.m.
Trainer John Sadler hopes the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Sunday will be the dawning of a glittering California campaign for Dawnie Macho.
“I’m excited about her,” said Sadler Thursday from his stable after entering the recent acquisition from Chicago in the six-furlong meet championship.
Dawnie Macho was purchased privately for Gary and Cecil Barber after winning her debut at Arlington Park by five lengths in track-record time of 51.16 seconds for 4 ½ furlongs on June 12.
“She worked nicely here Monday for the first time, five furlongs in 1:01,” said Sadler, who named Joe Talamo to ride the chestnut in the Landaluce. “She’s quick, but I think she can rate.”
Sadler, who has enjoyed success in recent years with Dawn Before Dawn, Dawn After Dawn and Third Dawn for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash,
hopes to enjoy more luck with the name for the Barber brothers. Dawnie Macho is by Macho Uno out of the unraced Montbrook mare Blush of Dawn.
Sadler won the Landaluce two years ago with Emmy Darling.
Alexis Barba, trainer of Alphie’s Bet, glanced at a sheet with only eight nominees for the $200,000 Swaps Stakes July 17.
“It’s not big, but it’s tough,” said Barba of the Grade II test for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track.
Expected to join Sham and Snow Chief stakes winner Alphie’s Bet are Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney’s Candy, Affirmed Handicap winner Golden Itiz, Affirmed runner-up Skipshot and Iowa Derby winner Concord Point.
Also nominated are Pinal, Summer Movie and Twirling Candy.
FINISH LINES—Free Flying Soul, winner of the Desert Stormer Handicap June 12, heads a list of 11 fillies and mares nominated to the $150,000 Grade II A Gleam Handicap at seven furlongs July 17. Also nominated are Emmy Darling, Irish Gypsy, Lady Railrider, Madame Arabella, Made for Magic, Moon de French, Sweet August Moon, Value Stream, Via Veneto and Will O Way. Moon de French worked six furlongs in 1:12 here Thursday…Buenos Dias, winner of an allowance/optional claiming race at 1 ½ miles on turf here June 10, is prominent among probable starters for the $100,000 Grade III Sunset Handicap at the same distance on July 18, closing day of the meet. Also nominated are Acclamation, Champ Pegasus, Dynamic Range, Great Siege, Marlang, Oil Man, Tamarack Smarty and Unusual Suspect…Trainer Howard Zucker reported that stakes-winning filly Well Monied has been retired. “She tweaked herself a couple weeks ago galloping,” said Zucker, who trains at Santa Anita. “It was a shame. She was a really sound filly. She will go to the November Keeneland sale.” Well Monied, a 4-year-old roan owned by C.T. Grether Inc., won the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap and finished second in the Grade I American Oaks last year. She finished fourth in the Grade I Gamely Stakes in her last start here May 29. She won four of 10 starts and earned $386,300…Blind Luck was flown to Delaware Park Wednesday and drew post five in a field of seven in the $250,000 Delaware Oaks Saturday. Meet riding leader Joel Rosario will ride the filly for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer…Rafael Bejarano will be at Arlington Park July 17 to ride Gamely winner Tuscan Evening in the $200,000 Modesty Handicap for Hollendorfer and General Quarters in the $300,000 American Derby…Jockey Martin Pedroza, who has won 999 races at Hollywood Park, has three mounts Friday night in an attempt to join nine other riders in the elite 1,000-win club…Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally celebrates his 78th birthday Sunday.
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