LIBERIAN FREIGHTER AIMS FOR VENGEANCE IN CRYSTAL WATER

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 25, 2010) – After missing by a head in last year’s Crystal Water Handicap, Liberian Freighter has been assessed high weight of 121 pounds in his attempt to complete the job Sunday against seven fellow California-breds in Santa Anita’s 13th running of the one-mile turf event worth $100,000.

Santa Anita’s leading rider, Rafael Bejarano, will be back aboard the gelded 5-year-old son of Bertrando who won a pair of stakes races in succession following his narrow defeat by Medzendeekron in last year’s Crystal Water.

His competition includes 4-year-old Compari, the second high weight at 119 pounds who has won his last four starts capped by the Jan. 1 Sensational Star Handicap, the $100,000 event that Liberian Freighter had taken the year before following his Crystal Water setback.

With Liberian Freighter and Compari, who both like to race on or close to the lead, this year’s Crystal Water might set up for a closer just as it did in 2007 when 10-1 shot Jack’s Wild rallied from ninth and last to score by three-quarters of a length under Brice Blanc at 115 pounds. The pair returns Sunday with a one-pound lighter impost.

The complete field for the Crystal Water Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Live Sundays, Alex Solis, 117; Liberian Freighter, Rafael Bejarano, 121; Kalookan Storm, Joseph Talamo, 113; Swift Winds, Alonso Quinonez, 114; Red Sun, Mike Smith, 115; Compari, Garrett Gomez, 119; Jack’s Wild, Brice Blanc, 114, and Enriched, Michael Baze, 116.

Trained by Neil Drysdale for wife Shawn Dugan and partners, Liberian Freighter is the most accomplished entrant with earnings of $414,130 from a 6-2-5 record in 17 starts. After winning the Sensational Star as well as Hollywood Park’s $150,000 Tiznow Stakes following the 2009 Crystal Water defeat, the bay who was bred by King Edward Racing Stable has finished a close fourth in each of his last two starts.

Compari has been on a roll for trainer Marty Jones since running third in his racing debut on Feb. 26 of last year. His four successive victories for owners-breeders Harris Farms, Donald Valpredo and John Nicoletti include Hollywood Park’s $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes. Garrett Gomes rides the son of Redattore who is 3-for-3 on turf. He has earned $272,640 in his five starts.

Harris Farms sends out a second entrant in Red Sun, who, like Compari, is a lightly-raced 4-year-old gelded son of Redattore. And, like Compari, Red Sun is a speedster who is on a roll with three successive victories following a second in his debut 13 months ago. Mike Smith replaces Bejarano aboard the Carla Gaines trainee who has earned $90,680. Red Sun will be seeking his first stakes win.

With ample speed in the lineup, the pace scenario may well flatter Jack’s Wild, who doesn’t win often, but who can fly from behind under ideal conditions. The 8-year-old gelded son of Lil Tyler, trained by Jorge Gutierrez, has earned $373,750 from a 4-5-3 record in 34 career starts.

The Crystal Water Handicap will be the eighth race on a nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m.

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