One of the better sprints of the 2013 season is on tap in the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) June 29 at Betfair Hollywood Park, featuring defending champion Camp Victory, multiple graded stakes winner Comma to the Top, and grade I winner Jimmy Creed .
In addition, two grade I winners on the comeback trail, Rail Trip and Morning Line , are part of a nine-horse field for this year's Triple Bend. The ninth on a 10-race program contested at seven furlongs on Cushion Track, the Triple Bend is set for a 5 p.m. PDT probable post.
The Triple Bend comes with a guaranteed berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park, providing the winning connections with a waiver of starting fees for the championship event. The race shares top billing on Saturday's Hollywood Park program with the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) on the turf, a Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" event for the BC Mile.
The nine Triple Bend entrants, including four millionaires, have combined total purse earnings of $6,832,550.
Camp Victory could make some history if he were to win the Triple Bend again for trainer Mike Mitchell and owners Roger Featherston, Gordon Jacobsen, Tom Miller, and Lux Frost.
The only repeat winner of the race, which will be run for the 62nd time, is Porterhouse, who won in 1955 and 1956—when the race was called the Lakes and Flowers Handicap—for Llangollen Farm and trainer Charlie Whittingham.
Camp Victory upset The Factor in the Triple Bend a year ago at 10-1 odds, providing an emotional pick-me-up for Mitchell, who watched the race via computer from his hospital bed after he underwent brain surgery at USC Medical Center a day earlier. Camp Victory prevailed by 3 1/4 lengths after stalking a hot pace for jockey Joe Talamo, who is back aboard the 6-year-old Forest Camp gelding.
They break from the far outside post with 116 pounds, six fewer than the top-weighted Jimmy Creed. Third in the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) May 27 in his tuneup at Hollywood for the Triple Bend, Camp Victory looks to snap a five-race loss string since that win.
Los Angeles winner Comma to the Top, one of 36 horses to win at least five stakes at Hollywood Park, will be shooting for his third stakes success of the meet for trainer Peter Miller.
Owned by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara, the indefatigable 5-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding won the Cool Frenchy at Hollywood May 4 prior to the Los Angeles, going gate-to-wire on both occasions. Comma to the Top, to be ridden from gate 4 by Edwin Maldonado under 121 pounds, is 14-for-31 with earnings of $1,293,406.
Jimmy Creed, winner of Santa Anita's Malibu (gr. I) and Potrero Grande (gr. II) in his prior two starts, will be aiming for his first Hollywood Park stakes victory for B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm and Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
The 4-year-old Distorted Humor colt has just eight lifetime starts, winning four, while earning $403,000. Gary Stevens has the call for the first time on Jimmy Creed from post 2.
Rail Trip boasts a strong record over Hollywood's main track, surprising the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and placing first or second in nine of 10 starts. He will be making his 8-year-old debut Saturday. The Jump Start gelding has been idle since finishing second behind Tapizar in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 3, and will be making his initial start at seven furlongs.
Trained by Ron Ellis for Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stable, Rail Trip has banked $1,508,790 in a 23-race career that includes nine wins.
Ellis, who has 996 wins through June 26, will also be represented by Centralinteligence, runner-up in the Los Angeles last time out and seeking a first stakes triumph.
Morning Line has not raced since a last-place finish in the Californian Stakes (gr. II) more than a year ago at Hollywood, where he captured the Mervyn LeRoy (gr. II) in his previous start for trainer John Shirreffs. The 6-year-old son of Tiznow won the Carter Handicap (gr. I) at Aqueduct Racetrack in April 2011 when trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Nick Zito. It is Morning Line's only prior start at seven furlongs.
He has banked more than $1.2 million in his 14-race career for William S. Farish, Dixiana Stables, and Thoroughbreds Legends Racing Stable.
After consecutive fourth-place finishes on turf at Santa Anita, Drill returns to the surface of his last win for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. A 4-year-old son of Lawyer Ron, Drill has lost five in a row since taking the Lazaro Barrera Memorial (gr. III) in May 2012 for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman.
Baffert, a three-time winner of the Triple Bend with Letthebighossroll (1996), Zensational (2009), and E Z's Gentleman (2010), could tie Charlie Whittingham for most victories in the race.
Sputtering in the 1 1/16-mile All American Stakes (gr. III) on the Tapeta racing surface at Golden Gate Fields May 27, Tres Borrachos returns to his favorite track and cuts back in distance. Marty Jones trains the 2008 Swaps Stakes (gr. II), a winner of more than $1 million in 47 races.
Cyclometer, a 5-year-old making his first stakes appearance for trainer Bruce Headley, completes the field.
$250,000 Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I, Race 9, 5 p.m.), 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Morning Line (KY), J R Leparoux, 119, J A Shirreffs
2. Jimmy Creed (KY), G L Stevens, 122, R E Mandella
3. Rail Trip (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 117, R W Ellis
4. Comma to the Top (FL), E A Maldonado, 121, P Miller
5. Drill (KY), R Bejarano, 116, B Baffert
6. Cyclometer (CA), M E Smith, 113, B Headley
7. Centralinteligence (KY), V Espinoza, 114, R W Ellis
8. Tres Borrachos (KY), A Bisono, 115, M F Jones
9. Camp Victory (VA), J Talamo, 116, M R Mitchell