Sixty-three-year-old Mike Mitchell, in his 35th season competing at Del Mar, became the winningest trainer in the history of the seaside track Aug. 12 when he sent out favored Backwoods Belle to win the fifth race, marking his 437th triumph “where the turf meets the surf.”
Thus, Mitchell surpassed still-active 79-year-old Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who has won 436 races in his 52 summers at Del Mar. McAnally was in Chicago at Arlington Park where he will saddle defending champion Éclair de Lune in the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Saturday.
With Garrett Gomez in the saddle, Backwoods Belle, the 4-5 favorite in a field of maiden claimers, cruised to the wire 6 ¼ lengths in front of runner-up Jessakar, with Warren’s Wanna Be third.
“To be honest,” Mitchell said in the winner’s circle, “I’m glad to have it over with and I’m glad that my wife and family are here with me. There’s no doubt this is special. To go past Ronnie (McAnally) is something.”
In Friday’s feature, the $105,685 Daisycutter Handicap, Unzip Me, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Rafael Bejarano, closed powerfully in the stretch to overhaul pacesetting Separate Forest and win by a half-length in :55.60 for the five furlongs over the infield turf course.
Givine was third, a half-length behind Separate Forest and a neck in front of Broken Dreams in the field of seven. Fifth Commandment was scratched.
Unzip Me, a five-year-old daughter of City Zip bred and owned by Harris Farms and Don Valpredo and trained by Marty Jones, returned $4.40, $2,.80 and $2.40 while earning $69,225 with her 12th victory in 21 starts. The California-bred mare’s earnings now total $812,228. She carried highweight of 124 pounds.
Separate Forest, who held on gamely under Patrick Valenzuela, paid $5.40 and $3.80, while Givine returned $3 to show.
The long-range goal for Unzip Me is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs, a race in which she was third to Chamberlain Bridge last November.