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Liaison Expected to Contest Mervyn Leroy

December 17, 2011.Liaison ridden by Rafael Bejarano, crossing the finish line and winning the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, CA

A trio of Bob Baffert runners are among a field of eight or nine expected for Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000-guaranteed Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, the first major steppingstone to the Grade I, $500,00 Hollywood Gold Cup July 6.

Liaison (Martin Garcia), winner of the 2011 CashCall Futurity on Cushion Track and the Santana Mile March 31 at Santa Anita, and Guilt Trip, winner of the Grade II Strub Stakes Feb. 2, head the Baffert contingent. Hoorayforhollywood (no rider) is listed as possible.

Other likely participants are 2011 Native Diver Handicap winner Kettle Corn (trainer John Sadler), Blueskiesnrainbows (Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, jockey Tyler Baze), winner of the Grade II Swaps Stakes in 2012 at Betfair Hollywood Park, and Oilisblackgold (Craig Dollase, Edwin Maldonado).

Dan Ward, Hollendorfer’s assistant, said Rousing Sermon has been training super and could join Blueskiesnrainbows in the starting gate.

John Scott, scratched from the Tiznow Stakes April 27, is unlikely for the LeRoy.

“He hasn’t fully recovered from a recent illness,” declared trainer Carla Gaines. “It’s nothing serious, but he just hasn’t been working like himself. His blood count is OK but we were hoping for more of a spark by the weekend.”

Gaines left open the possibility of running Midnight Transfer in the LeRoy. “He’s an enigma,’’ she said of the 4-year-old Hard Spun colt. “We’re not sure if he wants to sprint or route and we’re going to take some more time to make a decision.”



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