Jay Em Ess Stable's Rail Trip absolutely cruised to victory -- ridden out by 3 1/4 lengths in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) in his first start of the year May 8. Last year's Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner faces four of those same rivals again while taking three pounds off his weight assignment in the LeRoy.
Trained by Ron Ellis, Rail Trip pursues his fifth victory in seven tries on Hollywood's Cushion Track in this year's Californian, a race he was second in last season.
Noting that Rail Trip also finished second in last year's LeRoy, Ellis said: “We’re out to avenge those losses. He has been awesome since his last race. He’s ready to go.’’
The 1 1/8-mile Californian is the ninth of 10 races on the Hollywood program with a 5:05 PDT post time.
Rail Trip, a 5-year-old Jump Start gelding out of the Carson City mare Sweet Trip, has won seven of 10 and earned $877,790.
Tracking pacesetter Tres Borrachos in the LeRoy, Rail Trip took command approaching mid-stretch and drew away. Rafael Bejarano, who rode the 5-year-old for the first time, has the return engagement.
Hollywood Park’s leading jockey will be looking for his second win in the Californian in three years. He scored with Heatseeker in 2008.
Rail Trip, leaving from post seven, carries 118 pounds.
Second at 16-1 in the Mervyn LeRoy, Sangaree is seeking his first victory in a graded stakes. Sangaree stalked in third into the stretch and angled out to finish willingly last time. Owned by Darley Stable, the 5-year-old Awesome Again horse won the Joe Hernandez, a race rained off turf, at 6 1/2 furlongs March 7 at Santa Anita Park.
Idle since finishing last in the March Madness on grass March 28 at Santa Anita, Arnold Zetcher's 5-year-old Spurrier has had success on Cushion Track. The gray son of Dixieland Band has won two of three at Hollywood and was second in his loss.
Cigar Man, third in the LeRoy, is looking for his first victory at Hollywood Park. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, the 5-year-old Drewman gelding has been second or third in his five Inglewood starts.
The upset winner of the 2008 Swaps Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, Tres Borrachos faded to fourth in the LeRoy. Trained by Beau Greely, the 5-year-old Ecton Park gelding has won five of 25 while earning $602,582.
Also coming out of the LeRoy is sixth-place finisher Slew's Tiznow , a 5-year-old son of Tiznow . Owned by breeder Joseph LaCombe and trained by James Lloyd, Slew’s Tiznow has won four of 13, earning $303,100.
Zenyatta's connections -- owners Jerry and Ann Moss, trainer John Shirreffs, and jockey Mike Smith -- are seeking an upset with Aitcho. A 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic horse, Aitcho has won four of 12 while making two appearances in graded races. He was last in the 2009 Californian, then was sixth of seven in the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) on turf April 3 at Santa Anita.
Aside from Rail Trip, One Track Mind is the only entrant coming off a win. The 5-year-old gelded son of Mach One held on to win an optional claimer by a nose May 21. The California-bred is trained by David Bernstein, winner of the 1994 Californian with The Wicked North.
Claimed for $25,000 by his current connections out of a maiden race at Del Mar July 31, 2008, One Track Mind has subsequently won six of 13. Three of those victories have occurred at Hollywood Park.
$150,000 Californian Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:05 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 MIles (Synthetic)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Aitcho (KY), M E Smith, 116, J A Shirreffs
2. Slew's Tiznow (KY), D R Flores, 116, J Lloyd
3. One Track Mind (CA), T Baze, 116, D Bernstein
4. Spurrier (KY), J Rosario, 116, B Baffert
5. Cigar Man (FL), J Talamo, 116, V Cerin
6. Sangaree (KY), M Garcia, 116, B Baffert
7. Rail Trip (KY), R Bejarano, 118, R W Ellis
8. Tres Borrachos (KY), V Espinoza, 116, C B Greely