Winner of the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), Jay Em Ess Stable's 7-year-old gelding figures to need this start following a layoff since last fall. He faces a field that includes defending L.A. Handicap victor Camp Victory and Roman Threat, who nearly defeated sprint champion Amazombie in the Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II) last month in just his second start.
The Los Angeles is the eighth event on a 10-race Memorial Day card with a 4:41 p.m. PDT post. It precedes the Gamely Stakes (gr. I) for fillies and mares on the turf.
Rail Trip was sent to New York in 2010 following a runner-up finish in his defense of the Hollywood Gold Cup. Trained there by Rick Dutrow Jr., Rail Trip had a couple of physical setbacks and never acclimated, going 0-for-5 over a 13-month span. He has not raced since unseating jockey Ramon Dominguez in a minor stakes event in the mud at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov, 17.
Ellis has been taking his time with Rail Trip, working him for the past few months at Hollywood. In his most recent drill May 23, Rail Trip went five furlongs on the Cushion Track in 1:00 3/5, fifth fastest of 29 at the distance. Rail Trip has won five of eight starts over Hollywood's main track.
He drew the rail for his return and will carry top weight of 120 pounds. Jose Valdivia Jr., who rode him to the Gold Cup victory, is aboard. Rail Trip carries an 8-5-1 mark in 17 starts into the race with earnings of $1,116,790.
Camp Victory was declared the winner of last year's Los Angeles when Amazombie was disqualifed and placed third.
Trained by Mike Mitchell for Roger Featherston, Gordon Jacobsen, and Tom Miller, the 5-year-old Forest Camp gelding is coming off a third-place finish in the April 7 Potrero Grande over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Park. Camp Victory has won two of eight since claimed by his current connections for $40,000 Feb. 13, 2011.
Trainer Bob Baffert is represented by Roman Threat, making his third career start. After a debut maiden win in March, Patti and Hal Earnhardt's 4-year-old homebred by Roman Ruler nearly went gate to wire in the Potrero Grande before being tagged late by Amazombie, who prevailed by a half-length.
Roman Threat appears to be razor sharp for his return, posting three consecutive bullet works this month at Hollywood. He most recently drilled five furlongs in :58 4/5 over the Cushion May 21, best of 49 at the distance.
Sway Away, trained by Jeff Bonde for Batman Stable and partners, looks to bounce back from his fourth-place finish in the Potrero Grande as the second choice. The 4-year-old Afleet Alex colt was a fast-closing second to The Factor in the San Carlos Stakes (gr. II) before that. Sway Away won his only prior start at Hollywood, defeating an allowance field at seven furlongs on the Cushion Track last June.
$100,000 Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 4:41 p.m.), 3 & up, 6 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Rail Trip (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 120, R W Ellis
2. Dancing in Silks (CA), M Gutierrez, 114, A K Saavedra
3. Sway Away (KY), M Garcia, 117, J Bonde
4. Centralinteligence (KY), J Rosario, 114, R W Ellis
5. Don Tito (FL), K Krigger, 115, J W Sadler
6. Camp Victory (VA), J Talamo, 118, M R Mitchell
7. Roman Threat (KY), R Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
8. M One Rifle (CA), M E Smith, 115, B Headley