Roman Threat went gate-to-wire in the Los Angeles Handicap (G3) at Betfair Hollywood Park on Sunday for his second victory in three starts.
A 4-year-old gelded son of Roman Ruler, the 9-10 favorite is owned by breeders Patti and Hal J. Earnhardt III. Roman Threat quickly established command over 6-1 shot Centralinteligence and those two didn’t change positions the entire journey.
The win gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a Betfair Hollywood Park milestone. He has 84 local stakes wins, moving him into a tie with D. Wayne Lukas for fifth on the all-time list. Charlie Whittingham leads with 222.
In providing both Baffert and jockey Rafael Bejarano their first Los Angeles win, Roman Threat, who has earned $123,600, completed the six furlongs in 1:08.57.
“He’s fast,’’ said assistant trainer Mike Marlow. “Rafael said he had so much horse that even in the stretch he didn’t really have to get into him.
“He had a lot of little things wrong when he was two and three. We had to (geld) him because he was tough to handle and wasn’t paying attention to his training.’’
Making only his second start in graded company, Centralinteligence wound up 1 ½ lengths clear of defending champion Camp Victory.
In his initial outing as a 7-year-old, Rail Trip, the winner of the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup, finished willingly for fourth. It was the first race in California for the Jump Start gelding since he was second as the 2-5 favorite in the 2010 Gold Cup.
Ron Ellis, who trains both Centralinteligence and Rail Trip, was happy with the performance of both geldings.
“(Centralinteligence) gave (the winner) a run,’’ he said. “That time on this track is smoking. In his second start, (Roman Threat) made Amazombie run all out and that’s a pretty good horse for crying out loud. Everything worked out well. He just wasn’t good enough.
“I’m giddy at Rail Trip’s performance. For not having sprinted in four years and the winner getting an easy first quarter-mile, I thought it was just awesome. (Jockey) Jose (Valdivia, Jr.) said he was going real smooth. With that race under his belt, we’ll probably go seven furlongs the next time and then stretch him out.’’
–Hollywood Park Publicity contributed to this report.
Roman Threat/Benoit photo