02/20/2009 12:00AM

Big Cap unlikely for Rail Trip after win


ARCADIA, Calif. - In the hands of just about anyone else, Rail Trip would have been on the fast track to the Santa Anita Handicap following another comfortable allowance win Friday at Santa Anita. But as easy as this most recent win was, his fourth without a defeat, trainer Ron Ellis and co-owner Samantha Siegel face something far more difficult now, the decision on whether to come back in just 15 days for the Santa Anita Handicap. They seemed inclined to pass.

"Fifteen days is back pretty quick for us," said the conservative Ellis. "I'd say we're more inclined to take a long-term approach. He's just been a week or two off with the stakes schedule the whole meet."

"I asked Ron, 'Can we get them to move the Big Cap back a week?'" Siegel said, joking.

If Rail Trip bypasses the Santa Anita Handicap, Ellis said a race like the Oaklawn Handicap in April might be a possibility.

"Nothing's out of consideration," he said.

Rail Trip ($2.20) led every step of the way in the 1 1/16-mile race Friday, easily disposing of three overmatched rivals to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. nursed him through fractions of 24.50 seconds, 48.56, and 1:12.32 en route to a final time of 1:42.11 on Pro-Ride. Rail Trip sped through the fourth quarter-mile of the race in 23.55 seconds. It was like a paid workout.

"I thought everything went as expected," Ellis said. "I was a little disappointed there wasn't more depth to the field to give him more of a test."

Rail Trip did not make his first start until November. He has won one race a month since.

Elysium Fields impresses in comeback

One of the horses Rail Trip may meet on down the line is Elysium Fields, who returned from a layoff of nearly 11 months to score an impressive win against a first-level allowance field Thursday.

Although he was still eligible for the low-level allowance race, Elysium Fields is undoubtedly top class. He finished second in last year's Fountain of Youth Stakes before heading to the sidelines following a poor run in the Florida Derby. His owner and breeder, Robert Evans, subsequently moved Elysium Fields to trainer Neil Drysdale from Barclay Tagg.

Thursday's race, going 1 1/16 miles, was the first on a synthetic surface for Elysium Fields, a colt by El Prado. He won by 1 3/4 lengths under jockey Rafael Bejarano and was drawing away with every stride at the end.

"Rafael only tapped him the last sixteenth of a mile," Drysdale said. "He's still a little bit green. This is a very nice horse. And he's a good-looking bugger, isn't he?"

Long trip worth it for Gomez

Jockey Garrett Gomez and his agent, Ron Anderson, won the battle of Dunkirk. Gomez took off the races at Santa Anita on Thursday in order to fly to Gulfstream Park and ride the highly regarded Dunkirk, who scored a dazzling win in a first-level allowance for trainer Todd Pletcher to stamp himself as a prominent, late-blooming Kentucky Derby prospect.

How Gomez ended up with the mount is a combination of perseverance, blind luck, and a dash of fate.

According to Anderson, Gomez was scheduled to ride Dunkirk in his debut at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24, the day of the Sunshine Millions. But Gomez ended up not traveling to Florida that day because Go Between, his scheduled mount in the Sunshine Millions Classic, died earlier in the month of a heart attack.

Instead, Edgar Prado got the mount for Dunkirk's debut, which he won. But Prado on Thursday took off Dunkirk to ride Alma d'Oro, whom Prado had ridden to a maiden victory at Gulfstream on Jan. 15.

John Velazquez, who usually rides first call for Pletcher, was riding in Saudi Arabia this week, so Pletcher reached out to Anderson and Gomez.

"I've never had so much commotion over a horse," Anderson said. "From the time the overnight came out, people were calling, asking if Garrett was really going there. And after the race, I got a bunch more text messages and phone calls. Everybody wanted to send in their two cents."

Gomez also rides Pioneerof the Nile, who is scheduled to make his next start in the San Felipe Stakes on March 14 for trainer Bob Baffert. Based on the itineraries currently mapped out for both colts, Dunkirk and Pioneerof the Nile would not face one another, or even race on the same day, until the Kentucky Derby on May 2, assuming both get there.

Frankel works stakes runners

On a busy Friday morning on which 180 horses recorded workouts, trainer Bobby Frankel sent out several of his better runners for drills, including Proudinsky, who worked five furlongs in 1:01.20. Frankel said Proudinsky would make his next start at Fair Grounds on March 14 in the Mervin Muniz Handicap, a race Proudinsky won last year.

Mast Track, last year's Hollywood Gold Cup winner, worked six furlongs in 1:13.40, which was the best time of 22 at the distance.

Frankel said the chance of running Mast Track in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 7 was "a longshot."

"I missed some training time with him because of quarter cracks," Frankel said. "And the way the track has been playing, speed gets killed here."

Frankel also worked Ariege, last year's Santa Anita Oaks winner, a half-mile in 48.20 seconds.

Jockeys to play charity game

One of Santa Anita's longest-standing traditions will take place Thursday night when the local jockeys face a team of eighth graders from Holy Angels middle school in the 42nd annual charity basketball game.

The game will be held at La Salle High School in Pasadena, beginning at 7 p.m. La Salle is located four miles from the track, at the corner of Michillinda Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard. Admission is $5.

Among the jockeys expected to play are Michael Baze, David Flores, Martin Garcia, Corey Nakatani, and Gerry Olguin. The jockeys are coached by HRTV analyst Kurt Hoover.

Hall of Fame riders Eddie Delahoussaye and Laffit Pincay Jr. will serve as honorary co-captains and will sign autographs for one hour, beginning at 6 p.m.

* Jerry Moss knows how to take a charge. While sitting courtside at Thursday's basketball game between UCLA and Washington, Moss - who owns Eclipse Award winner Zenyatta with his wife, Ann - was knocked over by a player chasing an errant ball midway through the second half. Moss dusted himself off and made it through the rest of the game, cheering UCLA to a critical Pac-10 conference victory.