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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Mitchell Likes Recent Claim Mark the Bench

Trainer Mike Mitchell, who holds a 15-13 lead over Bob Baffert heading into the final five days of the Autumn Meet, hopes to put an exclamation point on a memorable session with Mark the Bench in the $80,000-added On Trust Handicap, closing-day feature Sunday.

 

“He should like the 7 ½ furlongs on synthetic,” said Mitchell Wednesday of the 6-year-old chestnut horse he claimed for $25,000 out of his last start, a second-place finish here December 7.      

 

Win, lose or dead-heat, Mitchell will have no complaints over a meet in which he passed the legendary Charlie Whittingham for the No. 2 spot in career wins at Hollywood Park.

 

Mitchell said the meet highlight was a victory by Pacific Ocean in the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes November 26 in the fastest six furlongs (1:08.48) of the year over Cushion Track.

 

“It was his first start for me with a new client (JMJ Racing Stables) and got us off on the right foot,” said Mitchell. “He smoked ’em.”

 

Mitchell will have his work cut out with Mark the Bench, the 112-pound lightweight with Martin Garcia, in the On Trust for Cal-breds. Other probable starters include Mensa Heat, Joe Talamo, 122; Red Defense, Joel Rosario, 121; Chiloquin, Martin Pedroza, 118; Legal Separation, Victor Espinoza, 116; and Spud Spivens, Garrett Gomez, 116.

 

Legal Separation worked four furlongs in 49.60 Wednesday for trainer Ed Moger, Jr.


 

ROSARIO AIMS FOR MEET THREE-PEAT

 

Jockey Joel Rosario, shooting for a third consecutive Autumn Meet title, holds a narrow lead over Rafael Bejarano and Martin Garcia entering the final five days of the session.

 

Through December 11, Rosario had won 29 races, two ahead of perennial rival Bejarano and five in front of Garcia.

 

The last jockey to lead the Autumn Meet three straight years was Hall of Famer Chris McCarron, who won five in a row (1981-85).

Rosario, who has also led the last three Spring/Summer meets at Hollywood Park, is chasing his sixth straight title at the Inglewood track, the most since McCarron won nine in a row from 1980-84.

 

 

 

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