The return to winning ways by Rail Trip in Saturday’s Grade II San Diego Handicap gave a big boost to owner Samantha Siegel , trainer Ron Ellis, and the entire Ellis stable.

It was the first victory for Rail Trip, a 7-year-old gelded son of Jump Start, in more than two years and the first in three starts since the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup winner was returned to Ellis’ care late in 2011 after an unsuccessful 13-month campaign in the East.

Since the $200,000 event was also a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 3 at Santa Anita, it gives Rail Trip’s connections plenty of options for the rest of the year.

“I said if he won this race we’d consider the Pacific Classic and we’ll certainly give it some thought,” Ellis said after the victory. “We’ll see how he trains and how we go forward but it’s going to be a consideration.”

With the automatic entry into the Dirt Mile, and an additional $10,000 travel stipend, the $1 million Breeders’ Cup race becomes a long-term goal

“That’s a big possibility,” Ellis said. “ I’ve always thought he would be an excellent miler. We worked real hard stretching him out to a mile and a quarter, but I always thought he would be a real good middle-distance horse.

“We’ll see. Anything’s an option now, but I like our chances of going in the right direction.”

Rail Trip came out of the race fine, Ellis’ stable foreman said Sunday morning. Ellis attended the wedding of TVG analyst Christina Olivares to trainer Dan Blacker on Saturday, then returned to his base at Hollywood Park .

The other on-the-board finishers from the San Diego Handicap also came out of the race well and were commended by their trainers.

“He ran super. He ran too great to lose,” Carla Gaines said of runner-up John Scott. The 5-year-old California-bred gelding and Harris Farms Inc. color bearer led for the first three quarters and continued on gamely after Rail Trip took the lead to finish only a half-length behind the winner.

Gaines said she’ll consult with owner John Harris before deciding on a possible next start.

John Sadler said the lack of early pace and late running space compromised the chances of third-place finishing Kettle Corn. “He finished up well, anyway,” Sadler said. “We’ll have to look at the Pacific Classic (as a possibility) unless something else comes up.”


Trainer Don Warren said that Acclamation, successful defender of his Grade I Eddie Read title on July 21 and being targeted for a TVG Pacific Classic defense on Sunday, August 26, will work on the turf course Thursday. Acclamation’s stablemate, Norvsky, who defended his California Dreamin’ title on July 22, will also exercise over the Jimmy Durante layout.

“It’s pretty close to what I did last year,” Warren said. “I worked (Acclamation) a couple of times on the turf and a couple of times on the Polytrack before the Pacific Classic.”

The Old English Rancho and partners stable stars will work five furlongs separately – Acclamation under either former jockey Fernando Valenzuela or Warren’s assistant/exercise rider Tim Reavey, Norvsky under former jockey Kenny Black.


Fleet Treat Stakes winner Starlight Magic came out of the race in good shape, trainer Mark Glatt said Sunday morning. The 3-year-old California-bred daughter of Marino Marini notched her second victory in five 2012 starts, her fourth in nine career races, and the $ 110,000 winner’s share of the $200,000 Fleet Treat purse boosted her career earnings to $322,900.

It was the first Del Mar stakes victory for the 39-year-old Glatt.

While there are three listed stakes for 3-year-old fillies remaining this meeting, two of them – the Sandy Blue and Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks -- are on the turf. The $100,000 Torrey Pines on September 2 is one mile on the Polytrack main surface, 220 yards longer than the Fleet Treat.

“We think our best option is to keep her on the main track,” Glatt said. “The flat mile near the end of the meeting looks like the best possibility.”


Zafeen’s Pearl, winner of Saturday’s seventh race under Chantal Sutherland, went through the Paddock Sale at Del Mar for race-ready horses, conducted by the Barretts Equine Ltd. sales company, as Hip No. 40.

“She was bought back for $130,000 (after bidding fell short of the reserve price),” said Kim Lloyd, Barretts general manager. “She worked very well the day before the sale, (5 furlongs in 1:01.60) and she loves this Polytrack.”

Twenty-five horses were purchased in the inaugural sale. Lloyd considered it a success.

“It’s an event. We’re really excited about coming down and having it again next year,” he said.


A field of five has been entered for Wednesday’s featured $100,000 Graduation Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds.

It is topped by Mike Harrington owned-and-trained Just Call Me Al and Steve Knapp-trained Strong Wind, the third and fourth-place finishers in the Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 12 at Hollywood Park.

The racing office was in the process of completing the draw for Friday’s $200,000 Real Good Deal Stakes. Eight were entered, among them 2011 California Cup Juvenile winner Rousing Sermon.

CLOSERS – Jockey Chantal Sutherland is in her native Canada today to ride Awesome Fire in the $250,000 Wonder Where Stakes at Woodbine. The race is the final leg of the Triple Tiara series for 3-year-old fillies foaled in Canada. Awesome Fire is owned by Hugh Sutherland, Chantal’s brother, and trained by Nick Gonzalez … Rafael Bejarano is at Monmouth Park in New Jersey where he has mounts in five stakes races, most notably Paynter, the 3-2 morning line favorite in the $1 million Haskell Invitational for trainer Bob Baffert … Horses eligible for Ship And Win bonuses on today’s card include: Move Over (1st, trainer Mike Machowsky); Lime Ricky (4th, Dallas Keen); Bench the Judge (5th, Justin Evans); Flaming Strike (6th, Dallas Keen); Budidinha (9th, Dean Pederson); On Time Again (9th, Mike Mitchell).

Trakus Facts of the Day for Saturday, July 28

While the overall pace of the San Diego Handicap was notably slow, it enabled fast closing fractions. Strongest to close was Take Control, who came home with the fastest final quarter in 22.71 seconds, 0.12 seconds faster than winner Rail Trip, and a final eighth in 11.19 seconds, which was 0.26 seconds than the next fastest horse.

Jockey Joe Talamo did everything possible to help longshot Montego Bay take the fifth race on Saturday. In the field of eight, Talamo guided the gelding to the rail, covering the shortest trip over 8.5 furlongs on the grass, finishing the race having traversed 5,666 feet. Robbie’s War and Gab Power, the second and third finishers, covered 19 and 17 feet more, respectively. The extra ground they covered was more than their final margin of defeat.