Del Mar’s all-time winningest trainer, Mike Mitchell has been one of the best trainers on the Southern California circuit for the last 20 years. Whether it’s with one of his patented claims or more recently with graded stakes winning horses, Mitchell is always a tough beat.
Mitchell, like Bobby Frankel before him, made a name for himself by becoming the “claiming guru”. One of his best claims, Kessem Power, was haltered for $50,000 and went on to win the 1998 San Luis Rey and 1999 San Luis Obispo Handicap, both G2 events.
On the flip side, Mitchell has saddled eight Breeders’ Cup runners; two in 2008 – Church Service and Big Booster, who finished second and third, respectively in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Church Service was beaten a head for the big prize . Those placings helped the veteran trainer enjoy a career year in 2008 with personal-high earnings of $4,571,184. In 2004, Mitchell posted his first two Grade 1 stakes victories with Kela in the Bing Crosby Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Del Mar and $80,000 claim Star Over the Bay in the G1 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship at the Oak Tree meeting. Each horse won three graded stakes during the year and Kela ended ’04 with a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint behind champion Speightstown before being retired to stud. Mitchell’s graded stakes success has continued with recent graded stakes winners Obviously, St Trinians, Camp Victory and Potesta.