11/25/2011 4:08PM

Mitchell takes over second spot in all-time wins at Hollywood Park

Benoit & Associates
Trainer Mike Mitchell now stands behind only Bobby Frankel in all-time wins at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A neck victory by Muny in the third race Thursday at Hollywood Park made Mike Mitchell the track’s second-leading trainer all time. The win by $40,000 claimer Muny was No. 860 for Mitchell at Hollywood as he passed Charlie Whittingham’s 859.

Mitchell remains a distant second behind the late Bobby Frankel, who won 952 races at Hollywood.

“That just goes to show what a great trainer Bobby was, he’s still [almost] 100 in front,” Mitchell said. “He owned this place.”

Entering the Friday card, Mitchell had won 93 races this year, short of his career-high 127-win mark in 1983. One personal best that Mitchell is likely to set in 2011 is winning percentage. His 93 wins this year are from 286 starters, a 32 percent win rate.

Mr Commons targets Sir Beaufort

The colt considered by many to be the top 3-year-old turf horse in California will skip the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Sunday, but is expected to be in action Dec. 26.

Mr Commons, fifth with a nightmare trip in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, is aiming for a one-mile turf race opening day of the winter meet at Santa Anita.

“We’re probably going to run in the Sir Beaufort, if all goes well,” trainer John Shirreffs said.

The Sir Beaufort is a one-mile grass race for 3-year-olds.

“He has a lot of potential,” the typically reserved Shirreffs said, still marveling at the Breeders’ Cup. “That was a roughly run race. He got hammered so many times, for him not to give up I thought showed a lot of character.”

Mr Commons has won three races and $383,660 from nine starts.

Allowance may be key for Malibu

The complexion of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita will gain further clarification Sunday in race 3. The second-level allowance sprint includes a trio of promising 3-year-olds that could show up in the seven-furlong Malibu – Smash, Centralinteligence, and Indian Winter.

Smash, who earned Beyer Speed Figures of 100 or more three successive starts early this year, is the likely favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong race. It will be the first start for Smash since July. The 2-for-4 colt is trained by Bob Baffert.

Centralinteligence scored a solid first-level allowance Sept. 30 at Santa Anita. The 2-for-4 gelding is trained by Ron Ellis.

Meanwhile, a former Derby hopeful makes his first start since April. Indian Winter, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, runs for the first time since a fourth-place finish April 30 in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs.

“He was a little stiff behind and needed to be turned out,” assistant trainer Dan Ward said. “He’s gotten over that, and he’s won both starts fresh. He’s ready.”

Indian Winter has won 2 of 6; the second Hollendorfer starter in the race is consistent 4-year-old Master Chef, a last-out winner Oct. 23 at Santa Anita.

So Brilliant eyes CashCall Futurity

So Brilliant, winner of the Hollywood Prevue on Thursday, is likely to join stablemate Liaison in the starting gate for the Grade 1, $750,000 CashCall Futurity for 2-year-olds on Dec. 17, owner Arnold Zetcher said.

Zetcher owns both So Brilliant and Liaison, both of whom are trained by Bob Baffert. Liaison, a late-runner, won the Real Quiet Stakes earlier in the month. So Brilliant, who has sharp early speed, is now 2 for 2 in sprints and will make his two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile futurity.

“He’s done all that we’ve expected,” Zetcher said following the Prevue.

As for the futurity, Zetcher said, “I think that’ll be the hope.”

“We’ve got Liaison also,” he said. “You’ve got to love it when it’s happening.”

In the Prevue, So Brilliant, the favorite, got away with a surprisingly soft early pace and turned back a host of challengers down the stretch to prevail by a half-length over Brother Francis.

Empire Way, a full brother to Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta, finished sixth in the seven-horse field while again wearing front wraps as he had in his winning debut 11 days earlier.

Galex suffered catastrophic injuries to his left foreleg a half-mile into the race and was subsequently euthanized.

Native Diver, Bayakoa nominations

The Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Native Diver Handicap for older horses on Saturday, Dec. 3, attracted 15 nominations, including graded stakes winners Tres Borrachos and Gladding.

The Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa Handicap for older fillies and mares on Sunday, Dec. 4, attracted 13 nominations, including the improving 3-year-old Home Sweet Aspen and former top sprinter Champagne d’Oro.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman