10/26/2005 11:00PM

Mitchells hope to make new memories

Jerry Bailey works Original Spin at Belmont on Oct. 21. Tony Mitchell, her trainer, has freshened the filly since her Sept. 18 win in the Arlington-Washington Lassie.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Even now, 15 years after the fact, the memory of Go for Wand's fatal breakdown in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff still stirs the emotions in Tony and Sherri Mitchell.

Back then the Mitchells worked for Go for Wand's trainer, Billy Badgett. Tony was one of two assistants and also served as an exercise rider. Sherri was also an exercise rider.

"Probably the unhappiest day of my life was spent at the Breeders' Cup," said Tony Mitchell, a former steeplechase rider in England, who worked as an assistant to New York trainers Tom Skiffington and Richard Schosberg before going out on his own in 2000. "Time heals, but memories stay."

Tony and Sherri Mitchell, now husband and wife, hope to create a different Breeders' Cup memory on Saturday when they send out Original Spin in the Juvenile Fillies, a race that Go for Wand won in 1989. But it is the memory of 1990 at Belmont Park that Tony Mitchell describes as "haunting."

Tony was on the apron near the tunnel as he watched Go for Wand fight with Bayakoa down the Belmont stretch in a race that lived up to the hype as the race of the day. Sherri was in another part of the track watching the race on a television set.

At the sixteenth pole, after having run step for step with Bayakoa from the outset, Go for Wand bobbled and fell, hurling jockey Randy Romero to the ground.

"There was like a silence around me, a void," Tony Mitchell recalled. "All I could do was see her go down and fall under the fence and Randy Romero being thrown as she did it. My immediate reaction was to push past people, to get down to the track. By the time I got down to the track she had gotten herself up and got herself down to the winner's circle.

"That's where we grabbed her and she dropped," Mitchell continued. "Once she dropped I could see it was probably life-threatening and at that point I just broke down, I really wasn't very good. Then, of course, somebody had to hold her while she had to be euthanized. It was me initially, then I couldn't do it. The other assistant, Molly Watson, had to hold her, she was a lot tougher than me."

When the incident happened, Sherri began to look for Tony, whom she was dating at the time.

"I remember trying to find him," said Sherri, the daughter of retired jockey Bill Boland who trained on her own for a few years. "He had a lot of people around him and he was screaming my name. It was kind of a blur at that point. I remember watching him leaping over the railing."

At this point, Sherri Mitchell's eyes well up with tears and a shiver goes down her spine.

"It still affects me," she said. "I think that's the best part of the game, that it still affects you. When you get to a point where it doesn't affect you, you shouldn't do this anymore."

Original Spin has affected the Mitchells ever since the Russell Reineman Stable sent her to them in 2004.

"My wife, Sherri, breaks all the babies down in South Carolina and very early on it looked like she'd be a superstar," Mitchell said. "She told me before she sent her to me this filly was going to be a real nice filly."

Original Spin is another in a line of talented young Illinois-breds the Mitchells have developed. In 2003, Tony Mitchell trained three Illinois-bred champions - Summer Mis, Julie's Prize, and Sir Fidgety.

Original Spin is an Illinois-bred daughter of Distorted Humor who is 2 for 2 entering the Juvenile Fillies. On Aug. 13, Arlington Million Day, she won a six-furlong maiden race in gate-to-wire fashion. Then she came from off the pace to win the Arlington-Washington Lassie by 3 1/4 lengths on Sept. 18. The move she made caught the attention of Ron Anderson, the agent for Jerry Bailey, who will ride Original Spin in the Breeders' Cup.

It was Tony Mitchell's decision to forgo another prep race for Original Spin and have a fresh horse entering the Breeders' Cup. Mitchell worked Original Spin a quick six furlongs at Hawthorne on Oct. 7 and then Bailey worked Original Spin a solid five furlongs at Belmont on Oct. 21.

Tony Mitchell has spent the bulk of Breeders' Cup week tending to the other horses in his 20-horse string. He was set to travel to New York on Thursday, with the hopes of creating a new memory of Belmont Park.

"For me to come over there with my little Chi-town girl - and I truly believe I'm coming in with a solid chance - if I win it, you'll probably see some yo-yo doing cartwheels down the front side," he said.