11/11/2011 4:28PM

Hollywood Park: Mitchell rebuilding his stable after injuries, retirements

Shigeki Kikkawa
The gray filly Egg Drop wins her debut at Del Mar. She is sidelined with a tibia injury.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Mike Mitchell, who became the all-time leading trainer at Del Mar this summer, has a long way to go for the same record at Hollywood Park. But he is inching closer, despite missing several top runners. A win Thursday by Roman Chic was Mitchell’s 857th at Hollywood; he ranks third behind Bobby Frankel (952) and Charlie Whittingham (859).

Mitchell’s stable is rebuilding. Graded stakes winner Tanda has been retired; she sustained a nasty gash on her left ankle finishing ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Tanda was scheduled to be sold at the Keeneland fall sale, but was pulled out following the injury.

“We were afraid of infection,” Mitchell said Thursday. “She had two really bad days, but now she’s had two good days.”

Tanda will be sold in January at the same time Mitchell’s retired graded stakes winner St Trinians also will be sold.

Egg Drop, the well-regarded 2-year-old filly who won her debut impressively at Del Mar before finishing 10th in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland, is out until next year. Mitchell was pointing her to the $100,000 Moccasin on Nov. 20, but she came up with a tibia injury after a Nov. 5 work. She will be sidelined 45 days.

“I’m not pointing her for anything” specific, Mitchell said. “When she gets ready, we’ll start looking for a race.”

Camp Victory, the Grade 3-winning sprinter and two-time Grade 1 runner-up, has been turned out and will return in a turf sprint later in the Santa Anita meet, possibly the San Simeon Handicap. Camp Victory lost that race by a nose early this year.

Two new shooters recently arrived at the Mitchell barn. They are 3-year-old colt Casper’s Touch, third in the Grade 3 Lexington in April, and Pacific Ocean, a 4-year-old gelding with three wins from five starts.

Comma to the Top on way back

Comma to the Top, horse of the Hollywood autumn meet one year ago after winning three stakes including the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, is on the comeback trail for trainer Peter Miller. Comma to the Top underwent surgery for an ankle chip after finishing last of 19 in the Kentucky Derby. He is up to six furlongs in his workouts.

“He’s doing super,” Miller said. “He’s almost ready.”

The tentative plan for Comma to the Top is either the Night Mover Stakes on Nov. 18 or Grade 3 Vernon Underwood on Nov. 26. The comeback will set him up for the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, opening day of Santa Anita winter. Comma to the Top has won six races and $778,600 from 14 starts.

Royal Delta full brother set for debut

One week after his full sister sold for $8.5 million, 2-year-old colt Empire Way makes his debut in race 4 on Sunday at Hollywood Park. Trained by Mike Harrington, Empire Way, by Empire Maker, is a full brother to Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta.

Harrington does not expect the colt to win first out, but is eager to begin the colt’s career. Empire Way, purchased for $250,000, is owned by Heinz Steinmann, who also owns Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third-place finisher Creative Cause. Harrington reiterated that Creative Cause will not race until next year, and while he respects the two horses that finished in front of him in the Breeders’ Cup, Harrington said, “I wouldn’t trade places.”

Ultimate Eagle comes alive off synthetics

Did 3-year-old Ultimate Eagle get good when he switched to turf, or when he switched off synthetic? Trainer Mike Pender is not sure. The manner in which Ultimate Eagle has been working on dirt, Pender believes he might simply be a good horse on any surface other than synthetic.

Ultimate Eagle posted another impressive dirt work Wednesday at Santa Anita (five furlongs, 59.60 seconds) under Martin Pedroza, who rode him to three straight turf wins – maiden, allowance, and Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby.

“He worked unbelievable,” Pender said, “that’s why I’m on the fence. It’s either the Hollywood Derby [on turf], or the Malibu” on dirt.

Ultimate Eagle ran three times in spring on synthetic at Hollywood, two thirds and a fifth against maidens.

“I didn’t like the way he traveled at Hollywood,” Pender said. “I ran him three times and said the hell with it.”

Since moving to grass, Ultimate Eagle has not lost.

While a switch to dirt may occur in winter, Pender said “we’re going to the Hollywood Derby” on Nov. 27.

Pender also trains Jeranimo, who he said came out of the seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile “like he didn’t even run.” Jeranimo won the “best in paddock” award at the Breeders’ Cup, earning $500 for his groom.

“At least we won something,” Pender said.

No plans have been made for Jeranimo; the Grade 2 Citation at 1 1/16 miles on turf will be run Nov. 26.

◗ The first Grade 1 of the autumn meet will be run Nov. 19, and the list of nominations is not strong. The 12 nominees include Bourbon Bay, Norvsky, Miss Match, and East Coast-based Sanagas.

◗ The $100,000 Moccasin Stakes for 2-year-old fillies will be run Nov. 20 at seven furlongs on the main track. Nominees include Candrea, Lady of Fifty, and Sister Moon. Ismene, winner of the Anoakia Stakes on Oct. 22 at Santa Anita, will wait for the winter meet.

◗ Western Aristocrat, front-running winner of the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap in his U.S. debut Oct. 8 at Belmont, is expected to ship for the Hollywood Derby, according to the Hollywood racing office.

◗ Vision in Gold, winner of the Grade 2 Santa Maria and third in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita last winter at Santa Anita, is nearing a return for trainer Ron Ellis. Vision in Gold is returning from an ankle chip. She worked five furlongs Thursday in 1:01.60 and is considered one of the circuit’s top females heading into winter. Vision in Gold is 4.