INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Liberian Freighter has displayed quirky habits before the start of his recent races, standing or prancing near the gate, sometimes proving to be tough for handlers, and generally behaving a manner that trainer Neil Drysdale describes as "playful."
Such antics have had no negative effect on the results. Liberian Freighter keeps winning. The 6-year-old gelding won the Grade 2 Arcadia Mile at Santa Anita on April 9 by leading throughout and essentially repeated the effort in Sunday's $150,000 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park.
"It's been a good month," Drysdale said.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Liberian Freighter ($9.40) led by 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch, by a length on the turn and in early stretch, and held off a late rush from Ryehill Dreamer to win the Grade 3 Inglewood by a half-length. Liberian Freighter ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:39.70.
Ryehill Dreamer, second throughout, finished a neck ahead of The Usual Q.T., who finished 1 1/2 lengths clear of Jeranimo, the 7-5 favorite, who was last throughout and closed in the final furlong to lose by 2 1/4 lengths. Jeranimo trailed by 9 1/2 lengths on the backstretch.
Liberian Freighter broke from the inside and took the lead after a clean start.
"When he broke sharp, I let him go," Garcia said. "He was comfortable."
Regarding the absence of any meaningful warm-up, Garcia was not concerned.
"Don't mess around with him," he said.
Friday, Drysdale was considering scratching Liberian Freighter in favor of a start in the San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday to give the gelding more time, but stayed at Hollywood Park to ensure a start on firm turf.
Owned by the estate of Ed Nahem, Chuck Winner and Drysdale's wife, Shawn Dugan, Liberian Freighter is arguably in the best form of his career. By Bertrando, Liberian Freighter has won 10 of 27 starts and $762,740.