Balanced Field Meets Liaison in Mervyn LeRoy

Balanced Field Meets Liaison in Mervyn LeRoy
Photo: Benoit Photo
Liaison won the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park as a 2-year-old.

Liaison   returns to the scene of the biggest victory of his career when he battles six other well-matched older horses at Betfair Hollywood Park in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) May 4.

The Southern California track hosts an 11-race program on Kentucky Derby day, with a special first post of 11 a.m. PDT. The Mervyn LeRoy, at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track, is the 10th on the card and is scheduled to go off at 5:30 p.m. PDT. The race is the first major stakes prep for the July 6 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I)

Arnold Zetcher's Liaison won the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) as a 2-year-old for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in December 2011, and the 4-year-old son of Indian Charlie has not been worse than third in four tries over the Cushion Track. He won the Real Quiet Stakes prior to the Futurity and finished second in the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) and third in Swaps Stakes (gr. II) last year.

Liaison dropped eight consecutive races after the CashCall Futurity before returning to the winner's circle March 31 in the Santana Mile at Santa Anita Park. A four-time winner from 13 starts with earnings of $631,794, the bay colt has continued to work forwardly at Santa Anita, posting a half-mile in :48 flat April 29. Martin Garcia has the return call from post 4 on Liaison, who will carry 118 pounds.

There are two past winners of the Swaps in the field, last summer's victor Blueskiesnrainbows and Tres Borrachos, who captured Hollywood's signature race for 3-year-olds on the main track in 2008.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Bad Boy Racing and Whizway Farms, Blueskiesnrainbows comes off a good Santa Anita meet. He posted two close seconds over allowance foes before rolling to a front-running 3 3/4-length triumph last time out March 22. The 4-year-old son of English Channel   has won two of his three tries at Hollywood and will have Tyler Baze aboard for the first time.

Tres Borrachos, now 8, recently surpassed the $1 million mark in career earnings for trainer Marty Jones. That's a significant achievement when one considers that he has just five wins from 46 starts. The Ecton Park gelding has three of those victories at Hollywood and is coming off a third in the Santana Mile.

The 120-pound high weight in the LeRoy is a second Baffert entrant, Gary and Mary West's Guilt Trip. The 4-year-old Pulpit colt won the Strub Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 2 but was hardly involved while running fifth of nine in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. ) one month later. He makes his first start at Hollywood with Joe Talamo in the irons.

Warren Williamson's Midnight Transfer gave a game account of himself in the Santana Mile, closing smartly on Liaison before running out of room and settling fro second as the 13-10 choice. The lightly raced Hard Spun   colt is trained by Carla Gaines and will have Edwin Maldonado aboard for the first time.

Rounding the field is a pair from the John Sadler barn, Kettle Corn   and Irish-bred Vagabond Shoes.

C R K Stable's Kettle Corn ran third in last year's Mervyn LeRoy and went on to run second in the Californian (gr. II) and third in the Gold Cup (gr. I). He has not raced since finishing third in the Dec. 1 Native Diver (gr. III), a stakes he won last year.

Vagabond Shoes has been well-beaten in two starts for Hronis Racing since arriving from Europe and will switch from turf. He tired to last in the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) March 2 after setting the pace. 

$150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II, Race 10, 5:30 p.m), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Tres Borrachos (KY), K Stra, 117, M F Jones
2. Blueskiesnrainbows (VA), T Baze, 115, J Hollendorfer
3. Guilt Trip (KY), J Talamo, 120, B Baffert
4. Liaison (KY), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
5. Vagabond Shoes (IRE), M A Pedroza, 115, J W Sadler
6. Kettle Corn (KY), V Espinoza, 118, J W Sadler
7. Midnight Transfer (KY), E A Maldonado, 116, C Gaines

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