06/26/2012 2:48PM

Hollywood Park: Rail Trip gets more ground; Baffert unveils touted juvenile filly

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Benoit & Associates
Rail Trip will stretch out to 1 1/16 miles Thursday in his second start back from a layoff.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A veteran Grade 1 winner trying to regain top form and an exceptional 2-year-old filly making the first start of her career share the spotlight Thursday on an appealing card at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Rail Trip is a 7-year-old gelding with a million-dollar résumé and three graded stakes wins, including the Hollywood Gold Cup.

Executiveprivilege is a $650,000 juvenile with fast works and an optimistic assessment by trainer Bob Baffert: “I think she is pretty special.”

They are favored in races 6 and 8, respectively, and their performances will influence the direction of their campaigns. Trainer Ron Ellis looks forward to Rail Trip stretching to 1 1/16 miles in the allowance, while Baffert wanted a shorter trip than 5 1/2 furlongs for Executiveprivilege. “Five-eighths would have been ideal,” he said.

Rail Trip won eight of his first 11 starts for Ellis, including the 2009 Gold Cup. But soon after finishing second as the 2010 Gold Cup favorite, Rail Trip was unceremoniously transferred to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. in New York. The move backfired, and Rail Trip lost all five starts for Dutrow before returning last fall to Ellis in California.

The first start back for Rail Trip was May 28 in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at six furlongs. It was too short.

“It was a comeback race, and I had no interest in having him ready to sprint with those horses,” Ellis said. “I thought he ran really, really well.”

Rail Trip ran super, finishing an even-paced fourth in a race dominated by speed.

“I liked the way he leveled off and finished,” Ellis said.

He also likes how Rail Trip has acted since.

“He definitely seems stronger and happier,” Ellis said.

With three good works since raced, Rail Trip stretches out Thursday against a good field that includes sharp Classic Legacy and Admission.

Both earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures last out. Based on back class, Rail Trip should defeat them both. Based on recent figures, Rail Trip might be up against it.

“If he’s required to run at 100 Beyer, I don’t know,” Ellis said. “He needs to win to get some confidence.”

Owned by Samantha Siegel, Rail Trip has won eight races and more than $1.1 million. A good effort Thursday under Jose Valdivia would put him on target for the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on July 28 at Del Mar.

Summer at Del Mar also is the target for Executiveprivilege, whose reputation preceded her being named last week by owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. Yes, she was named in reference to recent political events.

“We named her Friday and entered her Sunday,” Baffert said.

Sired by First Samurai, Executiveprivilege worked a quarter-mile in 21seconds flat at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April sale of 2-year-olds in training and brought the top price at the sale – $650,000.

Quick in Florida, Executiveprivilege also is quick in Santa Anita works.

“She has a lot of speed, she looks special,” Baffert said before warning “she might get a little tired.”

Baffert would be more confident if the Thursday race was five furlongs, rather than 5 1/2. Her rider is Rafael Bejarano, who had been working race 8 entrant Renee’s Queen for trainer Melody Conlon. Bejarano was expected to ride first-time starter Renee’s Queen, until Executiveprivilege jumped into the picture.

David Flores picks up the mount on Renee’s Queen, a well-regarded After Market filly who is a half-sister to Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes winner Mighty Caroline.