08/12/2011 9:09PM

Del Mar: Mitchell passes McAnally, takes top spot in wins


DEL MAR, Calif. - Mike Mitchell passed active Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally on Del Mar’s list of all-time winningest trainers in Friday’s fifth race when Backwoods Belle gave Mitchell his 437th career win at the seaside track.

Mitchell won twice on Thursday to draw even with McAnally at 436 wins. Backwoods Belle was Mitchell’s second starter on Friday, preceded by Devour, who finished third in the second race.

“I’m glad to get it over with,” Mitchell, 63, said in the winner’s circle after a series of photos with his wife and two daughters.

He said he had been teased by his wife, Denise, and daughter Shea not to break the record until this weekend because Denise was on a trip to Viet Nam and Shea had not been at the races because she had been working at Disneyland.

There was little suspense in Friday’s fifth race. Backwoods Belle ($3.60) stalked pacesetter Jessakar to early stretch and pulled away with little urging from jockey Garrett Gomez to win a maiden claimer by 6 1/4 lengths. The 2-year-old filly was bred and owned by Nick Alexander, who lost Backwoods Belle via a $40,000 claim on Friday.

“I’ve been with Nick for 30 years,” Mitchell said. “You want to win for any owner, but we’ve been together for so long.”

Mitchell expects greater success in the final weeks of the meeting. He has two horses geared to stakes – Camp Victory for the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien Stakes on Aug. 28 and St Trinians for the $85,000 Adoration Stakes on Sept. 4.