06/30/2012 6:20PM

Hollywood Park: Camp Victory upsets The Factor in Triple Bend Handicap

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Benoit & Associates
Camp Victory, a 10-1 shot ridden by Joe Talamo for ailing trainer Mike Mitchell, wins the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – With his trainer watching from a nearby hospital room, the ex-claimer Camp Victory won the biggest race of his career in Saturday’s $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Trainer Mike Mitchell underwent surgery Friday to have a tumor removed from his brain. He is expected to be hospitalized until early in the week. His assistant trainer, Phil D’Amato, said that Mitchell and his wife Denise were watching the Hollywood Park races Saturday via computer from the hospital.

What they saw was a perfect race from Camp Victory, who upset The Factor, the 9-10 favorite.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Camp Victory ($22.60) had an ideal trip, stalking the pace for the first half-mile and moving toward the leaders with a three-wide rally in early stretch. Racing wide, Camp Victory took the lead approaching the eighth pole and won by 3 1/4 lengths, finishing seven furlongs in 1:22.75.

The Factor, who fought for the early lead with Italian Rules on the backstretch and then Smiling Tiger, held second, finishing 5 1/4 lengths in front of 10-1 Mobilized in the field of seven.

As Talamo moved Camp Victory closer to the leaders on the turn, D’Amato began thinking the 5-year-old gelding could win.

“I loved the position we were in waiting,” D’Amato said.

When Camp Victory hit the line, the 35-year-old D’Amato said his emotions got the better of him. He has worked as an assistant to Mitchell for seven years.

“I had a tear or two coming down,” he said. Mike “is like my father.”

The Factor was the 123-pound topweight, while Camp Victory carried 116 pounds. The Triple Bend was The Factor’s first start since a sixth in the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai in March.

“He’ll move forward from this,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He didn’t get a breather.”

Camp Victory made his third start of 2012 in the Triple Bend, having finished third in both the Grade 2 Potrero Grande at Santa Anita in April and Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap here May 28.

Camp Victory won the second stakes of his career in the Grade 1 Triple Bend. In May 2011, Camp Victory finished second to Amazombie in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap and was promoted to first after Amazombie was disqualified for causing interference in the stretch.

A winner of 8 of 23 starts and $517,986, Camp Victory was claimed by Mitchell for $40,000 in February 2011.

“Mike has always loved this horse,” D’Amato said. “I remember when he claimed him it was a six-way shake.

“I’m sure he’s elated. This is unbelievable.”