01/29/2009 12:00AM

Rail Trip gets distance test


ARCADIA, Calif. - In winning his only two starts, both sprints at Hollywood Park last fall, Rail Trip has shown great promise.

Rail Trip has yet to be challenged, winning both starts by 3 1/2 lengths and earning Beyer Speed Figures of 102 in his maiden win and 101 in an allowance score. What remains unclear is his optimum distance, a question that could be answered in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Friday.

Fittingly, Rail Trip has drawn the inside post in a field of nine, which left trainer Ron Ellis encouraged.

"Every indication is it looks like he wants to go long," Ellis said. "The situation is right. I like [the post]. I think it's perfect for him. He's going to be the speed of the race anyway."

Owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel, Rail Trip, 4, led throughout a six-furlong race to beat maidens on Nov. 7 and was just off the pace for the first half-mile of an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs on Dec. 20. Ellis was delighted with the patience that Rail Trip showed under jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. in his second start.

"He's got experience sitting off another horse," Ellis said. "Those horses that get a late start in life give up a lot of experience."

Friday's race will help Ellis plan a 2009 campaign for Rail Trip, who is a son of the A.P. Indy sire Jump Start and out of a Carson City mare.

"I've got to find out how far he wants to run - one turn, a miler, or a mile and a quarter," he said. "If he's finishing well at mile and a sixteenth, he may want to go farther."

The other entrants have each made at least six starts, and four have been stakes placed. Pistol Pete Afleet was second in the War Chant Stakes at Hollywood Park in November, Spurrier was third in the Barbaro Stakes at Pimlico last May, Solemn Promise was second in the 2007 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park, and Barber was third in the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park last June.

Spurrier, now trained by Bob Baffert, was sixth in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial last spring and has not started since finishing last of five in the Postponed Stakes at Belmont Park in June.

Limestone Edge, trained by Bob Hess, is making his second start following a seven-month layoff. Fourth in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby last May, Limestone Edge was third in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park last month.