Rail Trip Back in Action in Mervyn Leroy

Rail Trip Back in Action in Mervyn Leroy
Photo: Benoitphoto.com
Rail Trip makes his 2010 debut in the Mervyn LeRoy.
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Rail Trip returns to the scene of the biggest win of his career when he kicks off his 2010 campaign at Hollywood Park in the $150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap (gr. II) May 8.

Jay Em Ess Stble's Rail Trip won the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) impressively last July. Idle since his third-place finish as the favorite in Del Mar's Pacific Classic (gr. I) Sept. 6, trainer Ron Ellis has taken his time bringing the 5-year-old Jump Start   gelding back to the races in hopes of having him peaking for this year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

Rail Trip worked four furlongs in :48 1/5 over Hollywood's Cushion Track May 5 in his final preparation for the 1 1/16-mile Mervyn Leroy. The bay finished second last year behind Ball Four as the 3-5 favorite in the Leroy. The race is the first stakes prep of the Hollywood meet for the $500,000 Gold Cup on July 10.

Six rivals await Rail Trip, who drew post 6 as the 121-pound high weight and will be ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano. Jose Valdivia Jr., who left the Southern California circuit earlier this year and is currently at Delaware Park, rode Rail Trip in all of his previous nine races. They teamed up to win six times, with two seconds and a third for earnings of $787,790.

Rail Trip followed last year's effort in the Mervyn Leroy with a runner-up finish in the Californian Stakes (gr. II) before springing a 9-1 surprise in the Gold Cup. It was the only time in Rail Trip's career that he was not favored.

He won the Gold Cup by three lengths after pressing the pacesetter Tres Borrachos and taking over coming into the stretch. Rail Trip has won three of his five starts at Hollywood.

All three of Tres Borrachos' victories from a 24-race career have come at Hollywood Park, including his 11-1 upset in the 2008 Swaps Stakes (gr. II). Now 5, the Ecton Park gelding has started twice this year and finished fourth both times.

Trained by Beau Greely for a partnership that includes breeders John Greely IV and Phil Houchens, Tres Borrachos has earned $593,682. Victor Espinoza has taken over as the regular rider of Tres Borrachos, who breaks from post 5 and is expected to vie for the early lead.

Dakota Phone will be looking to end a 13-race winless streak that spans more than 17 months. His last victory came in the Forty Niner Stakes Nov. 28, 2008 at Golden Gate. The 5-year-old Zavata gelding has finished second or third in five graded stakes during that period. His overall mark stands at 4-6-6 in 25 starts with earnings of $437,810.

Dakota Phone finished third, beaten by less than two lengths, in last year's Mervyn Leroy and 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, he is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze.

Slew's Tiznow   won his only prior race at Hollywood Park, the off-the-turf War Chant Stakes in November 2008, and is coming off a second as the favorite in the Santana Mile on April 10 across town. Joel Rosario has the call on the 5-year-old son of Tiznow   for owner-breeder Joseph Lacombe and trainer James Lloyd.

Trainer Bob Baffert is represented by Darley Stable's Sangaree  , who gets back to routing after three consecutive sprint tries at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old Awesome Again   horse won the off-the-turf Joe Hernandez Stakes in March and came back to run fifth in the Potrero Grande Handicap (gr. II) April 3.

$150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap (gr. II, Race 5, 3:04 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Dakota Phone (KY), T Baze, 117, J Hollendorfer
2. Sangaree (KY), M A Pedroza, 115, B Baffert
3. Slew's Tiznow (KY),  J Rosario, 114, J Lloyd
4. Cigar Man (FL), J Talamo, 114, V Cerin
5. Tres Borrachos (KY), V Espinoza, 114, C B Greely
6. Rail Trip (KY), R Bejarano, 121, R W Ellis
7. Art Currency (KY), M E Smith, 113, M R Mitchell
 

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