INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Liaison beat Kettle Corn by 1 1/2 lengths to win the $150,250 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a 1-3 finish.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Liaison ran 1 1/16 miles on the Cushion Track in 1:42.79 and paid $7.80, $4 and $2.80.
Baffert was in California on Saturday after none of his 3-year-old colts made it to the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.
``He's improving all the time,'' Garcia said. ``He out-broke everybody, but I just let the inside horse take the lead and sat chilly in second. When I asked him to go, he responded. He finished the job.''
Kettle Corn returned $5.20 and $3.20, while the Baffert-trained Guilt Trip was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third and paid $2.80.
Blueskiesnrainbows, formerly trained by Baffert, wound up fourth.
It was Liaison's first graded stakes win since the CashCall Futurity on Dec. 17, 2011. The 4-year-old colt had lost eight straight graded races since then, including a sixth-place finish in last year's Kentucky Derby.
The victory, worth $90,000, increased Liaison's career earnings to $721,794, with five wins in 14 starts.
In the $80,740 Cool Frenchy Stakes, Comma to the Top won by 1 3/4 lengths as the 2-1 favorite under Edwin Maldonado.
The 5-year-old gelding ran five furlongs in 56.90 seconds and paid $6.40, $3.60 and $2.60.
Italian Rules returned $3.80 and $2.80, while Ain't No Other was another half-length back in third and paid $4.20 to show.
Comma to the Top won for the 13th time in 30 starts, improving his earnings to $1,233,406.