04/29/2010 11:00PM

Bejarano picks up the mount on Rail Trip

Email

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Rafael Bejarano, who through Thursday led the nation's riders in earnings this year, has gained the mount on Rail Trip for the $100,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park next Saturday.

Trainer Ron Ellis said the decision was made by owners Mace and Samantha Siegel. Bejarano will be the second jockey to ride Rail Trip in the 5-year-old gelding's career. Jose Valdivia Jr. was the previous rider of Rail Trip, who has won 6 of 9 starts and $787,790 in a career highlighted by a win in the Hollywood Gold Cup last summer.

Valdivia recently relocated to the Philadelphia Park-Monmouth Park circuit.

"Jose is not here, and Rafael is," Ellis said. "It was something the Siegels wanted. They thought since he was riding here, why not?"

Rail Trip has not started since finishing third in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last September. He was a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita last November until being taken out of training a few weeks before the race because of a bruised foot.

"I think it's hard to be 100 percent, but I think he's pretty fit," Ellis said. "He's gained weight. His feet are healthy now. I was battling his feet at Del Mar."

Rail Trip ran on or near the lead early in his career but has raced as a stalker in his last few starts.

"I would think he's pretty easy to ride, pretty straightforward, at least now," Ellis said. "He was pretty tough when he was younger, but he's gotten professional now."

Last year, Rail Trip was second in the Mervyn LeRoy and Californian before winning the Gold Cup.

Rail Trip worked seven furlongs in 1:24.20 last Wednesday and will have a three-furlong or half-mile workout on Wednesday.

The Grade 3 Mervyn LeRoy is run over 1 1/16 miles and is a prep for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10. Other candidates for the LeRoy include Dakota Phone, Mast Track, Philatelist, and Slew's Tiznow.

Dakota Phone, third in the 2009 LeRoy, worked six furlongs in 1:13.40 on Friday. Slew's Tiznow, who was second in the Santana Mile at Santa Anita on April 10, worked six furlongs in 1:14.

Slew's Tiznow holds the Hollywood Park track record of 1:40.34, set in November 2008 with a win in the War Chant Stakes. His trainer, Jamie Lloyd, said that Rail Trip could be worth challenging next weekend.

"If there's a time to take him on, it's now," he said. "We're more fit now, and this is the track he likes."

Golden Itiz points to Affirmed

Ellis has a promising 3-year-old in Golden Itiz, who won an optional claimer by 11 1/4 lengths Wednesday and is bound for the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap on June 19.

Ridden by Tyler Baze, who won four races on Wednesday, Golden Itiz led throughout and pulled away in early stretch, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.50. The allowance race was Golden Itiz's first start around two turns and his second win in three starts. He is owned by the Siegels.

"He's always been, in my eyes, a router," Ellis said. "He's always been very professional."

On the same program, Bonnie Blue Flag won an allowance race for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/16 miles, which may lead to a start in the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks over the same distance on June 6, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Baffert said Wednesday that he considered Bonnie Blue Flag to be a candidate for the Kentucky Oaks earlier this year, but that the filly needed more time to develop. On Wednesday, she won by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:44.18.

"We were high on her last year, but she didn't do a lot," Baffert said. "She's turned the corner and has really blossomed."

Kinsale King drills for Ascot

Kinsale King, winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen sprint in Dubai in March, worked three furlongs on turf in 35.80 seconds Thursday.

Trainer Carl O'Callaghan plans to send Kinsale King to England for the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 19. O'Callaghan plans two more workouts for Kinsale King in California before sending the 5-year-old to Maryland for two weeks of grass training at Fair Hill Training Center.

Kinsale King will be in England for two weeks before the Golden Jubilee, which is run over a straightaway six furlongs. Owned by Patrick Sheehy, Kinsale King has won 5 of 8 starts and $1,407,080.

Midships preparing for comeback

Midships, winner of three graded stakes on turf last year for the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, is being prepared for a comeback by Frankel's former assistant, trainer Humberto Ascanio.

On Thursday at Hollywood Park, Midships worked a half-mile in 48 seconds, his fourth workout in April. Ascanio is targeting a summertime comeback, but said the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap on June 5 may arrive too soon for Midships. In 2009, Midships, owned by Juddmonte Farms, won the Grade 1 Whittingham, which was preceded by wins in the San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano handicaps.