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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Camp Victory Wins Triple Bend for Ailing Trainer

One day after undergoing successful surgery to remove a brain tumor, trainer Mike Mitchell, watching via computer from the intensive care unit at USC Medical Center, received a get well present when Camp Victory upset The Factor in the Triple Bend.

Saddled by Mitchell’s longtime assistant Phil D’Amato, the 5-year-old Forest Camp gelding rallied outside The Factor and a tiring Smiling Tiger into the stretch and swept past for a 3 ¼ length victory. The final time for the seven furlongs over Cushion Track was 1:22.75.

Claimed for $40,000 by Mitchell for Roger Featherston, Gordon Jacobsen and Tom Miller Feb. 13, 2011, Camp Victory won for the third time in 10 races for his current connections. Two of the victories have been in stakes. The Virginia bred, who is out of the Clever Trick mare Victory Trick, captured the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap – after the disqualification of Amazombie – in 2011 prior to his Triple Bend surprise.

Overall, Camp Victory, who was ridden by Talamo, has won eight of 23. He’s earned $517,986.

No worse than second in three starts at the Triple Bend distance, Camp Victory paid $22.60, $7 and $3.60.

“There was a tear or two coming down,’’ said D’Amato of the emotional win. “Mike did all the work. I just had him in maintenance mode. Mike’s always loved this horse and picked him out to claim.

“It was like a six way shake the day we got him. The rest is history. Ill be calling them (Mike and wife Denise) shortly. I’m sure he’s elated. This is just unbelievable. I loved the position we were in the whole time.

“I’ve been with Mike for seven years now. He’s like my father. He took me under his wing and taught me everything.’’

Denise Mitchell said she was allowed to bring a laptop into the ICU so her husband and daughters McCall and Shea could watch the race.

“It was crazy here,’’ she said. “We were all huddled around (the computer). Mike came out of the surgery fine and he’s doing very well. In fact, he’s sitting in a chair right now and isn’t in any pain. That (Camp Victory’s win) was just amazing.’’

The win was the second in the Triple Bend for Talamo, who also prevailed with Bilo in 2007.

“There was definitely a little extra emotion there at the wire,’’ he said. “Winning for Mike like that is unbelievable. This horse runs his race every time, but he doesn’t get there quite enough because he’s always running against a bias.

“It seems like every time there was a speed horse, they would just keep going. For once everything worked out on paper like we thought it would.’’

Making his first start since finishing sixth in the $2 million Dubai Golden Sheehan March 31 at Meydan Race Course in the United Arab Emirates, The Factor suffered his initial defeat in five races at seven furlongs.

After breaking quickly under leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, the 4-year-old gray quickly dispatched of early challenger Italian Rules, shook off 3-1 second choice and defending champion Smiling Tiger, who entered 3-for-3 over Cushion Track, but could not contain the winner.

The Factor, who finished 5 ¼ lengths clear of 10-1 shot Mobilized, returned $3.20 and $2.40 as the 9-10 choice and 123-pound top weight. The show price on the California bred Mobilized was $4.60.

“He just got a little tired,’’ said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert of The Factor. “He needed the race. I think he’ll move forward off this.’’



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