07/30/2012 2:31PM

Del Mar: Rail Trip gets his 'swagger' back in San Diego Handicap

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DEL MAR, Calif. - You might not be able to wipe the smile off trainer Ron Ellis’s face for quite awhile, such was the emotionally uplifting and satisfying victory by Rail Trip on Saturday in the San Diego Handicap.

“He looked great,” on Sunday morning, Ellis said.

Ellis said Rail Trip “really needed to win, he needed to have that swagger.”

“It’s going to be interesting to see how he acts coming out of this,” Ellis said.

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What a long, strange trip it had been for Rail Trip, who was hastily taken from Ellis’s care by co-owner Mace Siegel two summers ago following a third-place finish in the Hollywood Gold Cup. Ellis took the high road throughout, and after an unsuccessful East Coast campaign, Rail Trip was returned to his care last fall by Samantha Siegel, who now runs the horses outright following the death of her ailing father last year.

“It was funny circumstances, but that’s a couple of years in the past and we’re glad to have him back,” Ellis said. “When Samantha called me in December to say he was coming back, that was an awesome Christmas present.”

When Rail Trip first came to Ellis, the horse was suffering from an injured foot from his final race in New York, so Ellis let the foot heal and targeted the San Diego as a sensible early objective.

“We couldn’t have mapped it out any better,” he said. “He needed his first two races this year to get him really sharp.”
Ellis said he would give the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 26 “a thought.” His year-end goal, though, is the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, a race for which Rail Trip earned a fees-paid berth from the San Diego because of the Win and You’re In program.

“We always thought he’d be an excellent miler,” Ellis said.