07/14/2010 6:15PM

Rail Trip ready for Hollywood Gold Cup

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Jockey Rafael Bejarano lost his lead in the jockey standings at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting last weekend when Joel Rosario won seven races on Saturday and Sunday to take a two-race lead.

The race between the two friendly rivals for the riding title will last until the final day of the meeting, July 18. Bejarano can almost bank on taking back one win when Rail Trip starts as a strong favorite in Saturday’s $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

The leading older male in California, Rail Trip worked five furlongs in 1:01 under Bejarano at Hollywood Park on Monday in company with stablemate and stakes-winning 3-year-old Golden Itiz.

The workout was Rail Trip’s final major exercise before he attempts to defend his title in the Gold Cup. The workout left Golden Itiz, who won the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap on June 19, closer to a start in the $200,000 Swaps Stakes here on July 17.

“That was beautiful, huh?” Bejarano said to co-owner Samantha Siegel when the team returned to the barn.

Golden Itiz, who was timed in 1:01.20, started in front of Rail Trip and the pair finished evenly. “It was just a maintenance drill and he’s ready to run,” trainer Ron Ellis said of Rail Trip. “We just wanted to give him a chance to stretch his legs.

“He’s going in exactly the way he went in last year. I went back and looked at my chart and it’s the same was as last year.”

Rail Trip stalked the pace in the first six furlongs of his two wins this year, in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap in May and Californian Stakes on June 12. Bejarano saw more of that style in Monday’s workout.

“He was really relaxed in the work,” Bejarano said. “We started a half-length back to see how he rated and he went head-and-head.”

Rail Trip will carry top weight of 123 pounds in the Gold Cup, which is run over 1 1/4 miles on the main track. A 5-year-old gelding with 8 wins in 11 starts and earnings of $967,790, Rail Trip will be after his fifth stakes win in the Gold Cup.

He leads a field expected to have as many as nine starters. The other candidates are Richard’s Kid, who won the 2009 Pacific Classic and will carry 121 pounds, Compari (117), Awesome Gem and Sangaree (116), Tap It Light (114), and Cigar Man, Tres Borrachos and Victory Pete, who will all carry 113.

Compari was scratched from Sunday’s Grade 2 American Handicap on turf in favor of a start in the Gold Cup. A three-time stakes winner on turf at Santa Anita earlier this year, Compari won the Snow Chief Stakes for stat-bred 3-year-olds on the main track here in April 2009. He was seventh in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on turf here on May 31, failing to take his customary position on the lead.

“He’s earned a shot in a race like,” trainer Marty Jones said. “It’s a good time to try it. It’s a handicap, so we’re getting a little break in the weights.”

Slew’s Tiznow, who finished third behind Rail Trip in the Californian, will not start in the Gold Cup, and will be pointed for the $200,000 San Diego Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Del Mar on July 31, trainer Jamie Lloyd said.

“We’ll give him a little more spacing between races,” he said.

Last month, trainer Steve Knapp said Brushburn, who was third in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap on turf, was a Gold Cup candidate, but he said on Monday that the $100,000 Sunset Handicap here on July 18 or the $100,000 Californian Dreamin’ Handicap for statebreds at Del Mar a week later are more likely.

Global Hunter has surgery

Global Hunter, who was pulled up with an injury to his right front ankle after winning Sunday’s Grade 2 American Handicap, underwent surgery at Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic in Los Olivos, Calif., on Monday to stabilize the leg, trainer A.C. Avila said.

Avila said a plate and 16 screws were inserted into the injured leg, and that early prognosis was positive.

“So far, it’s okay,” he said shortly after the surgery was completed. “He didn’t have any leg infection or founder.”

Global Hunter was shipped from Hollywood Park to Alamo Pintado late Sunday evening. There was concern immediately after the race whether the 7-year-old could be saved after being pulled up by jockey Brice Blanc a few strides after the wire.

“He just broke down two strides past the wire,” Blanc said. “He shortened stride and didn’t give me any warning.”

Global Hunter has won 8 of 30 starts and $611,365. The Grade 2 American Handicap was his first victory since a win in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar last summer. An Argentine-bred by Jade Hunter, Global Hunter races for Monte Pyle and Shawn Turner.