It looks as if the Racing Gods are looking after trainer Mike Mitchell.
Just 24 hours after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor, Mitchell watched Camp Victory, a gelding he claimed for just $40,000, win the $250,000 Triple Bend (G1) at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The gelding stalked the early pace, came with a four wide run and ran down the 4-5 favorite The Factor in the stretch to pull off the upset, returning $22.60 for the win.
Mitchell, his wife Denise and his daughters watched the race over the internet from the Intensive Care Unit at the USC Medical Center.
“It was crazy here,’’ Denise said. “We were all huddled around (the computer). Mike came out of the surgery fine and he’s doing very well. In fact, he’s sitting in a chair right now and isn’t in any pain. That (Camp Victory’s win) was just amazing.’’
Camp Victory was saddled by Mitchell’s assistant Phil D’Amato and ridden to victory by Joe Talamo.
“There was a tear or two coming down,’’ said D’Amato. “Mike did all the work. I just had him in maintenance mode. Mike’s always loved this horse and picked him out to claim.
“It was like a six way shake the day we got him. The rest is history. I’ll be calling them (Mike and wife Denise) shortly. I’m sure he’s elated. This is just unbelievable. I loved the position we were in the whole time.
“I’ve been with Mike for seven years now. He’s like my father. He took me under his wing and taught me everything.’’
Today is closing day of the Churchill Downs meeting, with post time moved to 6:30 ET to beat the heat.
My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
To purchase my full card report for Churchill Downs click here
To purchase my full card report for Belmont Park click here
Here is today’s opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 Clm $50,000B (12:50 ET)
6 Freshman Dorm 6-1
9 Carson Hall 7-2
5 Top Surprize 3-1
10 Bell by the Ridge 12-1
Analysis: Freshman Dorm stalked the early pace and could not make up any round in the stretch in a fifth place finish last out against Alw-2 optional claimers. He was coming back off nearly a three month break and drops into a softer spot here tagged for $50K and facing non-winners of three or a race on turf in six months. He won 5 of 9 last year and is a six time winner on turf. He won here last fall against Alw-1 foes and followed that up with a game second against $25K starter allowance foes at Gulfstream Park. He fits well here and the 6-1 morning line looks generous.
Carson Hall chased the early pace and could not get to the loose on the lead gate to wire winner last out in a runner up finish against Alw-2 optional claimers. This guy has not seen the inside of a winner’s circle since beating Alw-1 foes in the summer of '10 at the Spa. He makes his third start since landing with the Chad Brown barn and a repeat of his last effort puts him right in the mix in this spot.
WIN: #6 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 6,9 / 5,6,9,10
TRI: 6,9 / 5,6,9,10 / 5,6,8,9,10
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 9 Bed O' Roses Hcp G3 (5:06 ET)
7 C C's Pal 8-5
2 Island Bound 7-2
3 Twice the Lady 12-1
4 Derwin's Star 3-1
Analysis: C C's Pal earned a career top speed fig taking the field gate to wire to win the Vagrancy 'Cap (G2) and is perfect in two trips over the main track here. Most of her wins have come sitting off the pace and there are a couple of runners in here quick so she is going to have to take a tracking role in this spot. The price is going to be on the light side but Tricky Rick runners do not bounce often and this is not a deep field for a Grade 3 race.
Island Bound came with a good six wide run and drew off late to win the Winning Colors (G3) at Churchill Downs in her last effort, also earning a career top speed fig. The mare comes in here in the best form of her career, landing in the exacta in six straight starts. She owns a solid pace profile with solid late pace numbers. The stretch out to seven furlongs suits this gal.
WIN: #7 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 2,3,4,7
TRI: 2,7 / 2,3,4,7 / 1,2,3,4,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
CD Race 7 The Firecracker Hcp G2 (9:30 ET)
4 Turallure 1-1
2 Seruni 7-2
6 Guys Reward 2-1
5 Silver Rock 8-1
Analysis: Turallure makes his first start since checking in seventh in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. He did not get much pace to run at in that nine furlong race, the early fractions 48 1/5 and 1:12 4/5. He drops into a softer spot here and cuts back to a mile. It is a short field here but there are couple of runners in here that have early zip and our top pick and likely favorite should get some pace in front of him to run at. He has been effect at a mile, missing in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) over the turf here last fall by a nose to Court Vision.
Seruni tracked the early pace, took over the lead heading for home and could not hold off Guys Reward late in a runner up finish in the Opening Verse here on June 9. Among the top three in here this guy looks as if he may end up offering the best value if he goes off near his 7-2 morning line.
Guys Reward comes in here off back to back wins and has won four of his eight starts over the turf here. The five year old has been running consistent figs over his last five outings, but will need to step it up to beat our top pick and the 2-1 morning line seems bit on the light side.
WIN: #4 to win at 4-5 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 2,4,6
TRI: no play
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R1: #10 Bell by the Ridge 12-1
R2: #3 Minescape 8-1
R4” #7 Lanett Lady 8-1
R4: #9 Picture Book 10-1
R5: #4 Flying Sappho 10-1
R5: #8 Lisini 10-1
R6: #11 Alex’s Buck 10-1
R6: #9 The Winged Venus 8-1
R7: #7 Erin Enchanted 15-1
R8: #6 Maria’s Luck 10-1
R9: #3 Twice the Lady 12-1
R10: #9 Corinthian’s Lark 15-1
Good luck today!