03/30/2009 12:00AM

Rail Trip set for first stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - For now, the conversations in racing rightfully focus on the build-up to the Triple Crown. By this summer, trainer Ron Ellis is hoping that Rail Trip, the unbeaten 4-year-old colt, will be part of national discussions.

Rail Trip makes his stakes debut in Saturday's $85,000 Santana Mile, on the undercard of the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby program. Owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel, Rail Trip will be favored in the Santana Mile, a race that Ellis and the Siegels chose over Saturday's $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap in Arkansas.

"The way I have it lined up, he can run in the Santana Mile and then roll into Hollywood with the series of three races there," Ellis said.

Hollywood Park's major stakes for older horses around two turns are the $150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap on May 9, the $250,000 Californian Stakes on June 13, and the $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11. By the Gold Cup, Rail Trip may have a prominent role in California's older horse division.

Rail Trip began his career at Hollywood Park in November, winning a maiden race. He followed that by winning a first-condition allowance race for sprinters there Dec. 20 before winning two allowance races over 1 1/16 miles here Jan. 30 and Feb. 20. Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. has been aboard for all four races.

In February, there was a brief discussion about trying Rail Trip in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7, but instead he ran in the Feb. 20 allowance.

"I'm glad the Siegels have taken the approach they did," Ellis said. "He's not that fond of this course. Valdivia has told me that likes Hollywood better. I'm glad his toughest tests will come there."

Rail Trip has yet to be tested, winning his four races by a combined 14 1/4 lengths. The Santana Mile has been the colt's focus for a month.

"I gave him eight days off to freshen him," Ellis said. "He's already run twice at the meeting and he's right on schedule."

Six likely for Santa Anita Derby

The Santa Anita Derby field is likely to have six starters, with three leading contenders - Chocolate Candy, Pioneerof the Nile, and The Pamplemousse - and three outsiders - Feisty Suances, Gallant Son, and Mr. Hot Stuff.

The three leading contenders have each won two stakes this year.

Rafael Bejarano has the mount on Gallant Son, who won the Pasadena Stakes on turf last month. Gallant Son has won four stakes, including three races at Emerald Downs last year.

The other riding assignments are Chocolate Candy (Joel Rosario), Feisty Suances (Victor Espinoza), Mr. Hot Stuff (Corey Nakatani), Pioneerof the Nile (Garrett Gomez), and The Pamplemousse (Alex Solis).

Saturday card loaded with stakes

There are four other stakes on the Santa Anita Derby program, including three Grade 2 stakes each worth $150,000 - the Potrero Grande Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs, the Arcadia Handicap over a mile on turf, and the Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on turf.

The Arcadia is led by Desert Code, winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last October and the Grade 3 Daytona Handicap on Feb. 15.

The Potrero Grande Handicap is not expected to have a strong field. The nominees are led by Devoted Magic, runner-up in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap; Halo Najib, runner-up in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap; and Noble Court, winner of the Joe Hernandez Stakes on March 21. Local sprint division leader Georgie Boy is bound for the Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on April 11.

The Providencia Stakes field is expected to include Pasar Silbano, who won the Grade 3 La Habra Stakes here Feb. 1; Oui Say Oui, who was group stakes-placed in Ireland last August; Rosy Mantle, winner of her U.S. debut on March 11; and Pride Dancer, winner of the Prix Herod Stakes in Paris last October.

Carlsbad stays perfect in Santa Paula

Carlsbad had barely left the winner's circle after Sunday's $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes when the teasing began between trainer Jeff Mullins and jockey Tyler Baze.

They had a right to be in a light-hearted mood. Carlsbad remains unbeaten after five starts and won the Grade 3 Santa Paula by 3 1/4 lengths. She won her first four starts, all at Turf Paradise, by a combined 50 1/4 lengths.

"This is the smallest margin she's won by," Mullins said. "What are you doing, Tyler?"

Baze grinned. "I was saving her," he said.

It would be rather frightening for the opposition if Baze had let Carlsbad run to her full ability.

"There were a lot of questions to answer today, and I think she answered them fine," Mullins said.

The Santa Paula was Carlsbad's first start at Santa Anita. She led throughout and was two lengths clear by the top of the stretch.

At Turf Paradise, her wins ranged in distances from six furlongs to a mile. She won a stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs by 19 lengths on Dec. 27.

"When Tyler breezed her, he said that he's never been in the air so long between strides," Mullins said.

Mullins was non-committal about Carlsbad's next race, though the $100,000 Railbird Stakes over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on Mayo10 is likely to enter the discussions with owner Dennis Weir.

Craigmyle gets ban for mule's positive test

Trainer Keith Craigmyle has been fined $3,000 and suspended 30 days by the California Horse Racing Board after a mule he started at the Big Fresno Fair last October tested positive for the painkiller gabapentin.

The penalties were part of a stipulated agreement between Craigmyle and the racing board. The racing board has stayed 25 days of the suspension if Craigmyle does not have a positive test for drugs in Classes 1, 2, or 3 for one year, until March 27, 2010. Craigmyle's five-day suspension will run from April 6-10, the ruling stated.

The positive test was found in a post-race sample taken from My Girl Sandy, who finished first in the fourth race on Oct. 8. The purse of the race was redistributed.

Craigmyle, 24, is winless with three starters at the Santa Anita meeting. He also has starters at Los Alamitos.

Trainer Ruben Cardenas has been fined $500 after a post-race test revealed that Frankelstein, winner of an optional claimer worth $53,600 on Feb. 21, tested positive for methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant. The ruling was issued by Santa Anita stewards Scott Chaney, Albert Christiansen, and Tom Ward.