Defending champion Rail Trip heads a lineup of 15 nominations to the $500,000 Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup, the piece de resistance of the meet at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track on July 10.
“He worked an easy six furlongs yesterday (in 1:17.20),” said trainer Ron Ellis Thursday of the 5-year-old gelding. “He will probably work again next Tuesday.”
Rafael Bejarano has the call back on Rail Trip, who seeks to join three-time winners Native Diver and Lava Man as the only repeat winners in the 71-year history of the prestigious race. Weights will be issued Sunday.
Rail Trip, who won by three lengths last year, comes off convincing victories in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap and Californian in his first two starts of the year. He seeks to become the first horse to sweep the three races since Eleven Stitches in 1981. Rail Trip could claim to be the first horse to cross the finish line first in all three since Eleven Stitches won the Gold Cup via the disqualification of Caterman.
Rail Trip has won eight of 11 starts and earned $967,790 for Mace and Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable.
Other probable starters include Awesome Gem (David Flores), Compari (Mike Smith), Slew’s Tiznow (Joe Talamo), Tap It Light (Tyler Baze) and Cigar Man.
Also nominated are the Bob Baffert-trained trio of Richard’s Kid, Sangaree and Spurrier, New York-based champion Gio Ponti, Brushburn, Enriched, Kanan Dume, Tres Borrachos and Victory Pete.
Tres Borrachos, who finished second in the Gold Cup last year, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 for trainer Beau Greely.
New York-based millionaire Gayego will probably make his next start in the $300,000 Grade I Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park July 10, Godolphin Racing spokesman Rick Mettee said Thursday.
“We’re trying to get things sorted out with the plane,” said Mettee. “He will work five furlongs this weekend (at Belmont Park). We’re trying to get there.” Rafael Bejarano has taken the call in the seven-furlong Triple Bend.
Gayego, a 5-year-old horse, began his career at Hollywood Park with trainer Paulo Lobo, winning twice in as many starts at this track and capturing the Arkansas Derby. He was sold to Godolphin at the beginning of his 4-year-old year, raced in Dubai and returned to win the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes and finish fourth in a four-way photo finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.
Gayego, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, returned to Dubai earlier this year to finish second in a Group III sprint and eighth in the Grade I Golden Shaheen Stakes.
“NYRA did away with the Tom Fool, so we had to look for something different for him,” explained Mettee of the Triple Bend choice. “He’s run well over that track before.”
Gayego has won seven of 16 starts and earned $1,459,620.
Also nominated are the John Sadler-trained quartet of Bestdressed, Hurricane Ike, Noble Court and Twirling Candy, the Bob Baffert-trained duo of E Z’s Gentleman and Sangaree, Malibu Stakes winner M One Rifle, Robert Kerlan Handicap winner My Summer Slew, Fantasy Free and One Track Mind.
Sadler said he planned to make a decision after this weekend on which members of the quartet to enter. Twirling Candy, a 3-year-old colt coming off a smashing 7 ¾-length victory in an allowance/optional claiming race here May 29, worked six furlongs in 1:14.80.
Trainer John Sadler will try to serve as a model of patriotism this Fourth of July weekend. He hopes to sweep the $250,000 Grade I American Oaks Saturday and the $150,000 Grade II American Handicap Sunday.
Sadler will send out probable favorite Cozi Rosie in the American Oaks and Oil Man in a wide-open American, both on turf.
“I think a mile and a quarter will be good for Cozi Rosie,” said Sadler. “She should be back early and settle into a mile-and-a-quarter pace.”
Sadler hopes that Oil Man follows in the footsteps of Whatsthescript, who won the American at 1 1/8 miles two years ago.
“We know that a mile and an eighth is a good distance for him because he won the Cinema here last year,” said Sadler. “And he’s run well on this turf course: a first and a second in two starts.”
Oil Man, an Irish-bred 4-year-old colt, finished a distant second to Enriched in a sizzling mile turf race here May 22 in his first start since November.
“I was very happy with his comeback race,” said Sadler. “He was running at the end.”
Trainer Steve Specht said Thursday that he expects Antares World to be more forwardly placed in the $250,000 American Oaks Saturday than she was in the Hollywood Oaks June 6, when she was taken back to fourth in a five-horse field and finished fourth.
“I don’t think the surface is an issue,” said Specht of the switch from Cushion Track to turf. “She’s better up close, and I was pretty upset last race when I saw her back there behind those slow fractions. If they’re crawling, I want to be there.”
Specht summoned Frank Alvarado, who rode the filly to victories in the California Oaks and Golden Poppy Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, to return in place of Victor Espinoza. The filly shipped south Monday from Golden Gate.
“She’s an easy filly to ride; she has tactical speed,” said Specht of the California-bred daughter of Decarchy. “She’s not a front-end horse and she’s not a deep closer. She keeps grinding away.”
Jockey Joel Rosario, who won his first Hollywood Juvenile Championship aboard Necessary Evil last year, seeks to win the $100,000 test again Monday with Western Mood. The Grade III test for 2-year-olds will be run at six furlongs.
Western Mood comes off a winning debut for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, rallying from eighth for a 1 ¾-length victory in 58.02 seconds
for five furlongs over Cushion Track on June 12 with Rosario. Hollendorfer last won the Juvenile with King Glorious in 1988.
The probable favorite will be J P’S Gusto, an impressive winner of the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes May 31 under Joe Talamo. Other probable starters include the Walther Solis-trained pair of River’s Chapel (Christian Santiago Reyes) and Tappin Tough (David Flores), Washington invader Marvin’s Magic (Mike Smith), Edgewick Road (Tyler Baze), Gab Power (Victor Espinoza) and Leon Ayala.
Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, anticipated stakes success on several fronts at Hollywood Park this weekend.
“City to City: got to beat Cozi Rosie,” said Ward of his primary challenger in the American Oaks Saturday.
“U R All That I Am: got to beat Gotta Have Her,” said Ward of the $150,000 Grade II Royal Heroine Mile Saturday.
“Western Mood: very professional, very impressive winning at five (furlongs),” said Ward of the stable’s entrant in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Monday.
Ward also watched Tuscan Evening, winner of the Royal Heroine last year, work seven furlongs in 1:25.80 on the main track. The 5-year-old mare is ticketed for a trip to Chicago for the Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park July 17, a prep for the Beverly D.
FINISH LINES—Martin Pedroza’s victory aboard Winter Camp in the fourth race Sunday was his 997th at Hollywood Park as the veteran approaches the elite 1,000 club at Hollywod Park. He would become the tenth rider to accomplish the feat here, joining, from top to bottom, leader Laffit Pincay, Jr. (3,049), Bill Shoemaker, Chris McCarron, Alex Solis, Eddie Delahoussaye, Patrick Valenzuela, Gary Stevens, Corey Nakatani and John Longden …Dawnie Macho has joined the John Sadler barn after an auspicious debut at Arlington Park and was nominated to the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs on July 11. “She just got here,” said Sadler of the chestnut daughter of Macho Uno, purchased privately by Gary or Cecil Barber after a five-length win in 51.16 for 4 ½ furlongs June 12. “She set a track record there. I will probably work her Monday and decide on the Landaluce.” The Landaluce lineup is expected to be headed by Cinderella Stakes winner She’ll Heir (Rafael Bejarano), Proctor Stakes runner-up Belleofthebridle (David Flores) and Given Episode (Tyler Baze)…Acclamation drew post three in a field of nine in the $750,000 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Saturday. Winner of the Jim Murray and Charles Whittingham Memorial handicaps over the Hollywood Park turf course, the 4-year-old colt will be ridden by Christian Santiago Reyes for trainer Don Warren. It will be simulcast locally at 2:23 p.m….I Want Revenge, runner-up in the 2008 CashCall Futurity, leaves from post four in a field of seven under Joe Talamo in the $300,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Saturday. Post time for the Suburban is 2:16 PDT.
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