A return to Betfair Hollywood Park proved the tonic for Boat Trip, a last-to-first winner of the $99,998 Hollywood Turf Express Sunday.
Some five weeks removed from a 12th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, the 4-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday took full advantage of a three-pronged pace duel to win for the fourth time in five starts over the local grass.
Given the fact No Silent, Chips All In and Unbridled's Note were involved in a battle that lasted the entire six furlongs, it was fitting they finished in a triple dead heat for second.
It was only the third triple dead heat in Hollywood Park's 75-year history. The other two were for first.
Challenger Tom, Joe's Pleasure and Leaful finished on even terms in a $5,000 claiming race July 3, 1957.
More than 40 years later, the photo finish camera couldn't separate Chans Pearl, Cool Miss Ann and Tina Celesta in an $8,000 claimer for fillies and mares Dec. 7, 1997.
Able to save ground most of the way under jockey Joe Talamo, Boat Trip angled outside for the final eighth of a mile and was up in the final strides for his fifth lifetime victory.
Out of the Seeking the Gold mare, Boat Trip, who won by a half-length, increased his earnings to $253,196 in 14 starts.
Bred in Kentucky by Galleria Bloodstock and Samac, Boat Trip compled the distance in 1:08.45 in a race returned to the Autumn stakes calendar for the first time since 2008.
The 7-2 fourth choice in a field of five, the bay colt paid $9.60, $2.10 and $2.10. No Silent, Chips All In and Unbridled's Note, the even-money favorite, all returned $2.10 and $2.10.
“He's going to be sad to see (Betfair Hollywood Park) go, that's for sure,'' said Pender. “He just likes this layout, there's no question about it. Whenever there's a paceless race, there's always three of them dueling up there. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work?
“No, that really helped. I was hoping he'd get a setup because he's kind of one dimensional. I'll be interested in seeing how this horse runs going a mile. He won the Tsunami Slew (June 22, 2012) going a mile.
“As he gets older, that's where we'll start looking. He's a big, handsome colt.''
Jonny's Choice, the lone California bred in the lineup and the longest shot in the race at 22-1, trailed. He finished 2 ¼ lengths behind No Silent, Chips All In and Unbridled's Note.
Racing resumes Thursday. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Track gates at Betfair Hollywood Park will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
The Betfair Hollywood Park Players' Club will be open for dark day simulcasts Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission is free.
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