08/24/2012 2:28PM

Del Mar: Camp Victory will get more respect in Pat O'Brien

Shigeki Kikkawa
Camp Victory won the Triple Bend at 10-1, but he'll likely have shorter odds in the Pat O'Brien.

DEL MAR, Calif. – It’s safe to say that Camp Victory is a barn favorite at trainer Mike Mitchell’s stable.

On June 30, a day after Mitchell underwent surgery to have a brain tumor removed, Camp Victory won the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park. Sunday, Mitchell, who is still undergoing treatments, will be at Del Mar to watch Camp Victory make his next start in the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes.

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Camp Victory is ready for another top performance, according to Phil D’Amato, Mitchell’s assistant.

“I don’t think he could be doing any better,” he said. “He thrives on this track.”

Camp Victory was a 10-1 outsider in the Triple Bend. He is likely to be the second choice in the Pat O’Brien, behind Coil, a three-time stakes winner trained by Bob Baffert. The Pat O’Brien has drawn a field of six, including the stakes winners Bruce’s Dream, Don Tito, and Mobilized and the stakes-placed Capital Account.

Camp Victory was held out of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby here in July in favor of the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien, which is run over seven furlongs.

Amazombie, the champion sprinter of 2011, and The Factor, the winner of the 2011 Pat O’Brien, finished one-two in the Bing Crosby.

“I think the timing is perfect,” D’Amato said of the Pat O’Brien. “We avoided Amazombie and The Factor. It was a good plan.”

Owned by a partnership, Camp Victory, 5, was claimed for $40,000 in February 2011. This year, he has earned $180,000. The Triple Bend is his most prestigious win in 23 career starts. Last year, Camp Victory was second in the Pat O’Brien, when the race was listed as a Grade 1.

“He ran a good second here last year and that’s when The Factor was on top of his game,” D’Amato said. “He’s bigger and stronger this year.“

The Pat O’Brien does not include a confirmed front-runner. Capital Account, trained by Baffert, has shown speed in the past. He was third in the Bing Crosby after a troubled start.

Wins by Bruce’s Dream or Mobilized would be a surprise. Bruce’s Dream, 6, has made only 10 starts in his career. He was fourth in a one-mile turf race on Aug. 2. Mobilized was third, beaten 8 1/2 lengths by Camp Victory in the Triple Bend.

Coil, best known for winning the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in 2011, has made one start this year, winning an optional claimer over seven furlongs here on July 26. The mount of leading rider Rafael Bejarano, Coil, 4, stalked the pace in that race and won by a length.

The optional claimer was an ideal comeback race, but Baffert says that Coil must improve in the Pat O’Brien.

“We’ve got to beat Camp Victory,” Baffert said. “That’s a good horse.”

Coil drew the outside post, which will allow Bejarano to stalk the pace while monitoring his rivals.

“He’s doing well, but he got his work cut out,” Baffert said of Coil. “He’s got a good post.”