RAIL TRIP EXTENDS UNBEATEN SKEIN, BIG 'CAP AN OPTION

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 20, 2009)—After beginning his career last November with three successive wins by a combined 12 ½ lengths, unbeaten 4-year-old gelding Rail Trip easily added number four on Friday in a $58,800 third-condition allowance event at Santa Anita, and afterward trainer Ron Ellis did not rule out the possibility of a start in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7.

With regular rider Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard, Jay Em Ess Stable’s Kentucky-bred son of Jump Start (by A.P. Indy), cruised to a handy 1 ¾ length victory at odds of 1-9 versus three other rivals. Booyah, with Joe Talamo aboard, finished second while never seriously testing the winner who was clocked in 1:42.11 for the 1 1/16 miles.

“I thought he ran awesome,” Ellis said after Rail Trip led from start to finish and came home strongly after setting leisurely early fractions of 48.56 for the half-mile and 1:12.32 for six furlongs.

“The field came up a little softer than I had hoped,” said Ellis. “He needed some seasoning to tackle the top horses. But he is a very gifted horse and is headed in the right direction. We’ll have to wait and see what is next.”

Ellis said he would discuss the possibility of running in the Gr. I Big ’Cap with co-owner Samantha Siegel. He noted that another option would be the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 28, which would be three weeks later than the Santa Anita Handicap.

“We’re going to enjoy this race, see how comes out of the race, and then we’ll talk about what’s next,” said Siegel. “Dubai’s a long way to go. We’re just going to enjoy the win and try not to think about anything else right now.”

Friday’s race seemed little more than a solid workout for the horse whose late start in racing followed surgery to remove an ankle chip. Valdivia merely shook the reigns at Rail Trip through the stretch.

“Sometimes you wish the competition was a little tougher, but he faced some well-seasoned horses today,” said Valdivia. “He’s so receptive to whatever I want to do with him, it’s incredible. Whenever I want a gear, he can give it to me…He’s the most exciting horse I’ve ever been on.”

Dixie Meister was a scratch earlier in the day. He had been installed as the 9-2 second choice on the morning line.

With no show wagering, the winner paid $2.20 and $2.10, with Booyah returning $3.40 to place.

The winning purse of $36,000 elevated Rail Trip’s earnings to $114,600.

The Gr. II, $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs, which had been an earlier consideration for Rail Trip, highlights a ten-race program on Saturday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m.

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