INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The $150,000 Oak Tree Mile at Hollywood Park on Saturday was more of a prep for the $100,000 California Cup Mile on Oct. 30 than the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.
After Liberian Freighter pulled an upset at 22-1, trainer Neil Drysdale said the 5-year-old gelding will be pointed to the Cal Cup Mile. Runner-up Colgan's Chip also is a California-bred and more likely for the statebred race. Breeders' Cup Mile contenders such as Tropic Storm, Meteore, and Victor's Cry finished third through fifth.
Liberian Freighter ($46.60) had an ideal trip under jockey Martin Garcia. Liberian Freighter was third early, trailing Tropic Storm and Colgan's Chip who fought through an early quarter in 23.01 seconds, before Tropic Storm took a lead by 1 1/2 lengths after a half-mile in 45.78.
Liberian Freighter trailed the leader by five lengths for the first half-mile and was within 2 1/2 lengths of leader Tropic Storm with a quarter-mile remaining.
Colgan's Chip took command near the eighth pole but could not hold off Liberian Freighter, who won by a nose and was timed in 1:33.24 for the turf race.
"It set up well," Drysdale said. "He ran a blinder. He trained up to this race well."
Colgan's Chip finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Tropic Storm. Victor's Cry, the 8-5 favorite, was beaten 3 1/2 lengths in his first start at Hollywood Park since a win in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile here in May.
Liberian Freighter, a 5-year-old gelding, won his first graded stakes in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile, his fourth career stakes win. Owned by Drysdale's wife, Shawn Dugan, Chuck Winner, and the estate of Edward Nahem, Liberian Freighter has won 8 of 22 starts and $571,740.