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Mulhall Still Has Olympic Dreams

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Trainer Kristin Mulhall definitely will follow the equestrian competition at the London Olympic Games when they start Friday. She says she’ll probably watch some other events that are on when she happens to be in front of a TV.

And the thought is likely to cross her mind that she might be a representative of the USA on that equestrian team, and getting up close and personal looks at the athletes from around the world in some future Olympics.

It was a very realistic dream a dozen or so years ago. And one that she still harbors. Coincidentally, the London Olympics begin on the same day that Mulhall will celebrate her 30th birthday.

Mulhall, daughter of longtime Southern California circuit trainer Richard Mulhall, was an accomplished equestrienne in both show ring and hunter-jumper events as a teenager. She qualified to become a member of Young Riders, a prelude to competing for a spot on the Olympic team.

“I was moving up in the Grand Prix ranks, still a ways away from qualifying,” Mulhull said Wednesday on the Del Mar backstretch. “I had a horse named Superman that was definitely an Olympic quality horse.”

Then, while making a tack room ready for occupancy she slipped from a ladder and drove a nail deeply into and fractured her forearm. “It got infected and kind of ugly,” Mulhall said. “It took six months to fully heal.”

While recovering, she galloped horses for trainer John Shirreffs at Del Mar and, in June of 2002, passed the test for her trainer’s license. Her first winner was with Atarama that summer over the Del Mar turf.

In 2004, at age 21, she conditioned Imperialism for a third-place finish behind Smarty Jones in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness – bidding to become the youngest, and first female, trainer to win a Kentucky Derby.

She entered the 2012 Del Mar meeting with six stakes wins at Del Mar and immediately won the next-best-thing to a stake, taking the first race on Opening Day with Miss California, ridden by Chantal Sutherland.

Mulhall keeps her riding skills honed by galloping and exercising most of her own horses. On Wednesday, she exercised nine in the early morning at Del Mar and then hopped in her truck for the 130-mile drive to Hollywood Park to get on a few more.

She says of Olympic-time riding. “It’s something I’ll eventually go back to when I have the time and feel like I have the right horse. I haven’t given up (on the Olympics).”

Pleased with her stable’s first-week success at Del Mar, Mulhall said she hopes to have some more with a couple of horses coming in from Florida. Tail of a Champion is a possibility for the Grade II, $200,000 Del Mar Mile on Sunday, August 26, and Red Jag for the Green Flash Handicap on Wednesday, August 15.

 

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