Liaison will seek his second stakes win of the Spring/Summer meet and third victory in a row in the $150,000 Californian Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
A Grade II for older horses at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track, the Californian is the final major prep for the $500,000 Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup, which will have its 74th running Saturday, July 6.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher LLC and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Liaison, who earned his most significant victory in the Grade I CashCall Futurity in 2011, had lost eight in a row before he captured the Santana Mile March 31 at Santa Anita.
The 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt followed with a 1 ½ length victory in the Grade II Meryn LeRoy Handicap May 4.
Out of the Victory Gallop mare Galloping Gal, Liaison has won five of 14 and earned $721,794. He's won three of five over Cushion Track and hasn't been worse than third over the surface.
He could become the first horse to win both the LeRoy and Californian in the same year since Rail Trip in 2010.
Baffert, who won the Californian a year ago with Game On Dude, could be the first trainer to repeat since Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel won with Skimming in 2001 and Milwaukee Brew the following year.
Runner-up to Liaison in the LeRoy, Kettle Corn will stretch to the distance of his victory in the Grade III Native Diver Handicap in 2011.
Trained by John Sadler, who won the 2011 Californian with Twirling Candy, and owned by Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable, Kettle Corn has seven wins in 21 races. The 6-year-old son of Candy Ride and the Lil E. Tee mare Somethingbeautiful has a bankroll of $424,111.
Fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the LeRoy, Blueskiesnrainbows will be looking for his third win over the Betfair Hollywood Park main track.
A 4-year-old son of English Channel and the Deputy Minister mare Cho Cho San, Blueskiesnrainbows won the Grade II Swaps locally in 2012 when in Baffert's barn. The Virginia bred is 4-for-14 lifetime with a bankroll of $296,282.
Owned by Bad Boy Racing LLC and Whizway Farms, Blueskiesnrainbows is trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who won the 2008 Californian with Heatseeker.
Clubhouse Ride returns to Southern California after almost upsetting Game On Dude in the Grade II Charles Town Classic April 20 in West Virginia.
The 5-year-old Candy Ride horse out of the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking Results finished a half-length behind the heavily-favored `Dude in the Classic – which is the same distance as the Californian – at nearly 13-1.
Trained by Craig Lewis, who won the 1988 Californian with Cutlass Reality, for owners Six-S Racing Stable and Niko Petralia, Clubhouse Ride has three wins in 27 races and earnings of $869,620. He's winless in six starts over Cushion Track, but has been second or third on four occasions.
Batti Man ended a 12-race losing streak in the United States when he won an optional claimer by a nose May 17. Trained by Dan Hendricks for Tom Mansor and Tachycardia Stables, the 5-year-old gelded son of Manipulator and the El Sembrador mare Siembra Pasion has three wins in 17 attempts and earnings of $117,284.
Before his 12-1 upset, Batti Man had gone winless since taking an allowance by nine lengths in his final start in his native Argentina Sept. 23, 2011.
Holladay Road will stretch out after finishing fifth of seven against fellow California breds in the Tiznow Stakes April 27.
Trained by Julio Canani for owners Gary and Wendy Broad, Holladay Road has won seven of 20. The 8-year-old gelded son of Street Cry out of the Great Commotion mare Blending Element has earned $360,252.
Oilisblackgold will be making his first start since finishing second behind Sky Kingdom in the Grade III Tokyo City March 23 at Santa Anita.
Owned by Class Racing Stable and trained by Craig Dollase, the 6-year-old Tapit gelding out of the Seeking the Gold mare Dancing Tempest has won three of 25. He's banked $238,240.
From inside out, the field for the Californian: Clubhouse Ride, Garrett Gomez rides, 115 pounds; Batti Man, Brice Blanc, 115; Kettle Corn, Victor Espinoza, 118; Holladay Road, Joe Talamo, 115; Liaison, Martin Garcia, 121; Oilisblackgold, Edwin Maldonado, 115 and Blueskiesnrainbows, Rafael Bejarano, 121
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