Mitchell-Baze Team Is Successful Again at Del Mar
For the second year in a row, trainer Mike Mitchell and jockey Tyler Baze teamed to win the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap in virtual wire-to-wire fashion with a gray gelding Mitchell had claimed.
A year ago, Mitchell and Baze won the Grade II with Star Over The Bay, a popular thoroughbred who won other stakes for the trainer and rider before he went wrong and had to be euthanized. This time the winner was Leprechaun Kid.
Claimed for $80,000 by Mitchell for a partnership on July 28, Leprechaun Kid, a 6-year-old son of Alphabet Soup and an 8-1 shot on Sunday, won in a style similar to Star Over The Bay in 2004.
As in that race, Leprechaun Kid looked beaten coming to the wire but was able to find a little extra and edge Laura’s Lucky Boy, ridden by Corey Nakatani, who was also on the losing end last year aboard Sarafan.
The victory was emotional for Mitchell and, especially, Baze, who has struggled through a subpar meet at Del Mar. He had one other winner on the card on Sunday but began the weekend having lost with 159 of his first 167 mounts.
“I’m so happy for Tyler,” said Mitchell after the win in 2:12.81 for the 1 3/8 miles on turf. “He needed it just as much as I did.”
Happy Ticket, the 2-1 favorite, made it nine wins in 10 starts with a 5 1/2 -length victory in the $250,000 Ballerina on Sunday at Saratoga.
Comfortable in the muddy going, the 4-year-old, Louisiana-bred daughter of Anet beat 6-1 shot Pleasant Home and five others in 1:24.53 for the seven furlongs. It was the first Grade I victory for Happy Ticket, who was ridden by John Velazquez.
Molto Vito, the longest shot, at 24-1, was third, then came Bank Audit, Vision Of Beauty, Forest Music and My Trusty Cat, the 3-1 second choice.
If trainer Todd Pletcher had his way, West Virginia wouldn’t have participated in the $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup Handicap on Sunday at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
The Eclipse Award-winning trainer was hoping to run the 4-year-old Tomorrows Cat colt in an allowance race on Saturday, but when that contest didn’t get enough entries, he decided to give the Iselin a go.
West Virginia, a 16-1 shot, won the Grade III, outfinishing 65-1 shot Zoffinger, then surviving an inquiry. Jose Velez Jr. was aboard the winner, who covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.83 and won by one length. Purge, the 6-5 favorite who is also trained by Pletcher, was third.
A Diller A Dollar, the longest shot at 47-1, won the $150,000 Golden State Derby on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.
The 3-year-old gray gelding beat 10-1 shot Jumpn by a head. Ridden by leading quarter horse jockey Hector Cuevas, A Diller A Dollar ran the 400 yards in the Grade I in 19.665 seconds.