Trainer Kristin Mulhall definitely will follow the equestrian competition at the London Olympic Games when they start Friday. She says she’ll probably watch some other events that are on when she happens to be in front of a TV.
And the thought is likely to cross her mind that she might be a representative of the USA on that equestrian team, and getting up close and personal looks at the athletes from around the world in some future Olympics.
Mulhall, daughter of longtime Southern California circuit trainer Richard Mulhall, was an accomplished equestrienne in both show ring and hunter-jumper events as a teenager. She qualified to become a member of Young Riders, a prelude to competing for a spot on the Olympic team.
“I was moving up in the Grand Prix ranks, still a ways away from qualifying,” Mulhull said Wednesday on the Del Mar backstretch. “I had a horse named Superman that was definitely an Olympic quality horse.”
Then, while making a tack room ready for occupancy she slipped from a ladder and drove a nail deeply into and fractured her forearm. “It got infected and kind of ugly,” Mulhall said. “It took six months to fully heal.”
While recovering, she galloped horses for trainer John Shirreffs at Del Mar and, in June of 2002, passed the test for her trainer’s license. Her first winner was with Atarama that summer over the Del Mar turf.
In 2004, at age 21, she conditioned Imperialism for a third-place finish behind Smarty Jones in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness – bidding to become the youngest, and first female, trainer to win a Kentucky Derby.
She entered the 2012 Del Mar meeting with six stakes wins at Del Mar and immediately won the next-best-thing to a stake, taking the first race on Opening Day with Miss California, ridden by Chantal Sutherland.
Mulhall keeps her riding skills honed by galloping and exercising most of her own horses. On Wednesday, she exercised nine in the early morning at Del Mar and then hopped in her truck for the 130-mile drive to Hollywood Park to get on a few more.
She says of Olympic-time riding. “It’s something I’ll eventually go back to when I have the time and feel like I have the right horse. I haven’t given up (on the Olympics).”
Pleased with her stable’s first-week success at Del Mar, Mulhall said she hopes to have some more with a couple of horses coming in from Florida. Tail of a Champion is a possibility for the Grade II, $200,000 Del Mar Mile on Sunday, August 26, and Red Jag for the Green Flash Handicap on Wednesday, August 15.
WICKERR WIN SUGGESTS McANALLY’S GOT A GOOD ONE
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally said that Suggestive Boy, impressive winner of Wednesday’s Wickerr Stakes, not only came out of the assignment well but was “fightin’ for more” on Thursday morning.
“He ran a big race and he looks like he could be an extraordinary horse,” McAnally said. “It’s the horse that makes everybody look good, the owner, the trainer, the jockey.“
Four-year-old Suggestive Boy, a three-quarter length winner in the one-mile Wickerr with a late burst between horses under Joe Talamo, is one of two Argentine-bred newcomers to McAnally’s barn owned by the Pozo de Luna, Inc. stable of Mexican businessman Jose Cerillo. The other, six-year-old Interaction, was runner-up to Acclamation in last Saturday’s Eddie Read Stakes.
“We’ll try to figure out how to keep them separated,” McAnally said. McAnally indicated he fully intends to run both again during the Del Mar meeting and will work both on the Polytrack main surface to determine if there is an option other than turf for one or both.
PRODIGAL ‘KID’S RETURN HAS BAFFERT ON COUGAR HUNT
Two-time TVG Pacific Classic champion Richard’s Kid is back in the barn of Bob Baffert and back on the same race schedule that led to the Classic victories in 2009-10.
Richard’s Kid drew the rail post and will face five rivals Friday in the Grade II, $100,000 Cougar II Handicap.
Richard’s Kid finished second to Unusual Suspect in the 2009 Cougar II before posting a $50.80 upset win in the Pacific Classic under Mike Smith for owner Arnold Zetcher. In 2010, a third-place finish in the Cougar II preceded an $11.60 score in the Classic under Smith for new owner Zabeel International Racing Corp.
The 2010 Classic was the last Del Mar appearance for Richard’s Kid. The 7-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid spent all of 2011 based in the United Arab Emirates. In the most recent of two 2012 starts, both at Hollywood Park, Richard’s Kid was second to stablemate Game On Dude in the $500,000, Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup on July 7.
The Cougar II, at 1 ½ miles on the Polytrack main course, is a quarter-mile longer than the Pacific Classic. Richard’s Kid won the June 12 Prove It stakes, at 1 3/8 miles on the Hollywood Park synthetic track, after going 0-for-5 in Dubai at distances from a mile to 1 ¼ miles.
“That’s a different kind of synthetic track over there and I don’t think he likes it,” Baffert said. “He really likes this track and I think he’s better now than any time since we’ve had him.”
AMAZOMBIE WORKS; WILL FACE FOUR FOES IN CROSBY
Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award sprint champion Amazombie was on the track at around 5 a.m. Thursday for trainer Bill Spawr, working a half-mile in :47.00. Spawr had the 6-year-old California-bred gelding galloping out to five furlongs in a minute flat after covering the final eighth of the work in :23 1/5 seconds.
“He usually works a little slower than that, but Mike (jockey Mike Smith) said he just sat on him and (Amazombie) was pulling the whole way.”
A field of five was entered for Sunday’s Grade I, $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, the 6-furlong run that often determines the sprint champion of the meeting. Amazombie was third in the 2011 Crosby behind Bob Baffert-trained Euroears.
The Crosby could evolve into a match race between Amazombie and The Factor, 2011 sprinter of the meeting off a victory in the 7-furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes. But Capitol Account, a stablemate of The Factor, Don Tito and Comma to the Top all could have a say in the outcome.
Comma to the Top, trained by Peter Miller, was scratched from Thursday’s seventh-race allowance to run in the Crosby.
CLOSERS – The Lung Cancer Foundation of America “Day at the Races charity event will be held on Sunday, July 29, from noon to 6:30 pm at Del Mar with the one event on the 10-race card being specially dedicated as the LCFA “Breath of Life” race. Master of Ceremonies for the event is Tim Conway, Jr., host of The Tim Conway, Jr. Show on KFI AM 640 Talk Radio. For further information go to http://www.LCFAmerica.org … Ship And Win bonus-eligible horses on today’s card include: Four Bettter (2nd, trainer Doug O’Neill); Cosset (2nd, Hector Palma); Blackie’s Crown (2nd, Christie Grisham); Grace for Grace (6th, Tevis McCauley); Mary Fildes (6th, Simon Callaghan); Belle de Lune (6th, Tom Proctor); Koko Loca (6th, Doug O’Neill); Bank the Eight (7th, Bob Baffert); Private Zone (7th, Doug O’Neill) … Trainer Craig Dollase has four-time Pacific Classic starter Awesome Gem on the grounds, training for a title defense in the $200,000, Grade III, Longacres Mile on Sunday, August 19, at Emerald Downs outside Seattle. Awesome Gem, 9, has earnings of more than $2.7 million with 11 wins in 50 career starts … Jockey Corey Nakatani, who was excused from mounts late on Wednesday’s card when he experienced light headedness, was recovered Thursday morning and work horses for, among others, Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
Trakus Facts of the Day for Wednesday, July 25
Lakerville’s second win of the meet also featured the fastest final fractions recorded in the last two seasons at Del Mar. Next-to-last turning for home in Wednesday’s fourth race, Lakerville recorded a final quarter in 21.73 seconds, and a final furlong in 10.88 seconds en route to the victory.
Compared to 110 starters tracked over the 2011 Del Mar meet at five furlongs on grass, and 27 starters thus far at the 2012 meet, Lakerville’s closing fractions on Wednesday were the fastest. A week earlier, Lakerville won with a final quarter timed in 22.10 and a final eighth in 10.99 seconds. Comparatively, the swifter fractions from this Wednesday’s victory are also the two fastest final quarter-mile and final eighth-mile splits out of all 2,378 horses tracked at the entire 2011 Del Mar meeting. The second-place finisher, Batti Man (Arg), was beaten just 1.5 lengths, covered 24 feet more than Lakerville in a solid effort.
The final margin of Inner Groove’s third race victory was a diminishing half-length, but the daughter of Rock Hard Ten covered added ground. Inner Groove got the trip in 5,347 feet, which was 44 feet more than second-place finisher Belle Gallantey and 30 feet more than third-placer My Friend Gail.