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.