Photo: Benoit Photos
Mike Mitchell already has a jockey for a son-in-law. He also has a jockey he says is like a son. That would be Martin Garcia, regular rider of the Mitchell-trained Egg Drop, on whom Garcia has recorded three straight photo-finish victories, most recently by a nose in the Grade I Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 1.
Egg Drop seeks her fourth straight stakes win in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes, Monday’s Presidents’ Day feature at Santa Anita, where once again The Great Race Place offers one of its popular Dollar Days. Beers, sodas and hot dogs will be just a buck apiece, all day long.
Mitchell made no bones about whether Egg Drop starts on Monday. “Even if Secretariat runs,” Mitchell said, “I’m running.”
Garcia has ridden Egg Drop in her last five starts, winning four and finishing second by a half-length the other time, so he has great affinity for the 5-year-old gray daughter of 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup.
“Martin’s a good rider, and he’s smart,” said Mitchell, whose daughter, Shea, is married to Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux. “It looked like Egg Drop was going to be beaten in the Matriarch, but Martin switched sticks right at the last moment . . . She responded to it and won. It wasn’t something I told him to do; it was instinctive on his part.
“I always felt Egg Drop needed to have the lead to run her best, even when I was running her short. But the new strategy was nothing I told Martin. He just figured it out and let her sit behind and ever since it’s been successful.”
Mitchell’s relationship with Garcia is more than strictly business. “He calls me Papa,” the trainer said, “and I treat him like a son.”