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2012 San Diego Handicap Day

Jose Valdivia Jr. celebrates aboard Rail Trip after winning the 2012 San Diego Handicap
Date: 07/28/2012

The feature race on Saturday at Del Mar was the $200,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles over the Polytrack, and is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Dirt Mile (G1). 25,087 fans came out to the seaside oval under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70's. John Scott, winner of his last two starts both in allowance company, was sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite in the field of 7. In to challenge him included 13-4 second choice Kettle Corn, third in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) last out, and 7-2 third choice Take Control, undefeated in two starts and making his stakes debut.

Rail Trip leads down the stretch

Jockey Victor Espinoza sent John Scott to the lead first time by and he set slow fractions of 25.13, 49.98, and 1:14.14 while pressed by 9-2 fifth choice Rail Trip 1/2 a length behind and to his outside. Entering the stretch, jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. sent Rail Trip to challenge and he put his head in front. The pair battled to the line through 1 mile in 1:37.29, but Rail Trip prevailed, completing the distance in 1:43.14. It was another 1/2 length back to late-running Kettle Corn third.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey        Win  Place  Show
 7   Rail Trip        Valdivia Jr.  11.20   5.60  3.80
 4   John Scott       Espinoza              5.50  3.60
 1   Kettle Corn      Gomez                       2.60

Winning Time:  1:43.14

$1 Exacta 7-4                24.40
$2 Quinella 4-7              26.20
$1 Trifecta 7-4-1            80.20
$1 Superfecta 7-4-1-5       242.00
Results Chart

Left: Rail Trip in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Ron Ellis said, "It was awesome. I think he really needed a win. The thing I've noticed about him since he came back was he didn't have that swagger he did when he was winning. I think this race will help him get that back. I couldn't have mapped it out any better on paper. The plan was to get good position, he broke sharp, Jose made all the right moves and it was a perfect trip. I said if he won this race we'd consider the Pacific Classic and we'll certainly give it some thought. We'll see how he trains and how we go forward. (The BC Dirt Mile) is a big possibility. I've always thought he would be an excellent miler. We worked real hard stretching him out to 1 1/4, but I always thought he would be a real good middle-distance horse. We'll see. Anything's an option now, but I like our chances of going in the right direction."

Right: Rail Trip in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. said, "No special instructions (from Ron Ellis). He said 'If you don't know him now, nobody does.' I've ridden him and worked him in the mornings. Ron said this race would tell us where he (Rail Trip) was. Either he'll be back to his old self, or he's lost a step. I'd say he's back. He ran great. He was game all the way. It is so good to see him back to this level. He's a special horse and he's been through a lot. All that time back east. It's so good to see him back to this level. Would I like him going 1 1/4 (Pacific Classic)? I'd love him."

Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite John Scott in the post parade. Jockey Victor Espinoza said, "He ran good. We saved all we could and he ran good. I wish I wasn't stuck down inside, though. I think it was deeper down there and that he could have run better if he was outside."

Right: Third place finisher Kettle Corn in the paddock before the race. Jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I don't know what got into him today. He's usually a good gate horse. But he got kind of funny as soon as he went in there. He threw me off once; then he did it again. Considering what a pain in the you-know-what he was, he ran pretty good. And I know he can run better."

Fourth place finisher and Azeri's first son Take Control in the paddock. He was originally named Vallenzeri and was bought back by the Allen Paulson Living Trust for $7.7 million in the 2008 Keeneland September yearling auction. He later sold for $1.9 million in the 2009 Keeneland sale of 2-year-olds in training by Kaleem Shah, CEO of Calnet. He won his debut race at Santa Anita on December 30, 2009, then was sidelined by sore shins and assorted other problems until June of 2012 when he won an allowance at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "Just no pace; nothing. I couldn’t push my horse. That’s just not his style. If I push him, he has nothing at the end. So we did what we had to do. He’d like to run farther, too. He could run 1 1/2."

Starlight Magic wins the Fleet Treat Stakes

Earlier in the card, a field of 8 California-bred 3-year-old fillies sprinted 7 furlongs in the $200,000 Fleet Treat Stakes. Jockey Mario Gutierrez sent 7-1 River Kiss to the lead through fractions of 22.96 and 46.10 before tiring. 3-1 second choice Starlight Magic and jockey Rafael Bejarano, 7th early, came out 4 wide to win by 1/2 a length over 11-1 Warren's Amber in 1:23.57. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to 3-2 favorite Willa B Awesome third.

Results Chart

Starlight Magic in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Mark Glatt said, "We got a pretty good trip. I was afraid she was going to get trapped inside, but Rafael got her out and she proved to be the best horse. Rafael has won 3 races on her and I was glad to get him back on. Today was her day. I was really confident. In the Hollywood Oaks she ran back 16 days after and it was a tough race. Obviously it was an easier race today and she had 5 weeks between races. That seems to be the key for her." Jockey Rafael Bejarano added, "My horse doesn't have too much speed, so I asked her for some early to put her in the race. I got a good spot and then when it opened up for her, she just went.

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