05/08/2010 11:00PM

Rail Trip wins comeback in Mervyn LeRoy

Benoit Photo
Rail, Trip, with Rafael Bejarano up, wins the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Saturday while making his first start since September.

A sharp comeback win by Rail Trip ($3) on Saturday at Hollywood Park reestablished the 5-year-old gelding as the top handicap horse in California and early favorite to win his second straight Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10.

Making his first start since September against a nondescript field in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, Rail Trip and jockey Rafael Bejarano pressed slow early fractions set by Tres Borrachos (48.70 seconds and 1:12.66), took command into the stretch and won by 3 1/4 lengths over Sangaree in a sharp 1:42.37 for 1 1/16 mile.

"He's a much more mature horse now, physically and mentally," trainer Ron Ellis said. "He's filled out. He's a fresh horse and he's happy, but he's got to win the Gold Cup first to say he's better than last year. He sure acts like it with the way he's training and acting."

Rail Trip, owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel, was winning for the seventh time in 10 starts. He has earned $877,790. Rail Trip is expected to run June 12 in the Grade 2 Californian, followed by the Gold Cup.

After Rail Trip and runner-up Sangaree, the finish order was completed by Cigar Man, Tres Borrachos, Dakota Phone, Slew's Tiznow, and Art Currency.