Mike Mitchell already has a jockey for a son-in-law. He also has a jockey he says is like a son. That would be Martin Garcia, regular rider of the Mitchell-trained Egg Drop, on whom Garcia has recorded three straight photo-finish victories, most recently by a nose in the Grade I Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 1.

Egg Drop seeks her fourth straight stakes win in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes, Monday’s Presidents’ Day feature at Santa Anita, where once again The Great Race Place offers one of its popular Dollar Days. Beers, sodas and hot dogs will be just a buck apiece, all day long.

Mitchell made no bones about whether Egg Drop starts on Monday. “Even if Secretariat runs,” Mitchell said, “I’m running.”

Garcia has ridden Egg Drop in her last five starts, winning four and finishing second by a half-length the other time, so he has great affinity for the 5-year-old gray daughter of 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup.

“Martin’s a good rider, and he’s smart,” said Mitchell, whose daughter, Shea, is married to Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux. “It looked like Egg Drop was going to be beaten in the Matriarch, but Martin switched sticks right at the last moment . . . She responded to it and won. It wasn’t something I told him to do; it was instinctive on his part.

“I always felt Egg Drop needed to have the lead to run her best, even when I was running her short. But the new strategy was nothing I told Martin. He just figured it out and let her sit behind and ever since it’s been successful.”

Mitchell’s relationship with Garcia is more than strictly business. “He calls me Papa,” the trainer said, “and I treat him like a son.”


Cherubim moved from synthetic to dirt before breaking his maiden, but Simon Callaghan dismisses any aspersions that the 3-year-old son of Henny Hughes is a one-trick pony.

“He was on the inside and it was his first time out,” the 30-year-old trainer said, referring to Cherubim’s eighth-place finish on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in his debut race last Nov. 24. “I’m not really sure why he didn’t run well on the synthetic, but we always felt he was a really good horse and he really showed it last time.”

That came Dec. 28 on Santa Anita’s conventional dirt track. Cherubim virtually led throughout the six furlong race, winning by 3 ¼ lengths under Mike Smith, who retains the mount in the San Vicente.

The maiden allowance race proved very productive, as the second (Chelios) and third (Pimpernel) horses each came back to win.

“Horses have been coming out of that race winning,” Simon said. “We’re really excited.”

The field for the San Vicente, which goes as the fifth race: Grazen’s Hope, Martin Garcia; Rprettyboyfloyd, Brice Blanc; Papa Turf, Joe Talamo; Roger Rocket, Corey Nakatani; Cherubim, Mike Smith; and Kobe’s Back, Joel Rosario.


Let Faith Arise should progress from her first route race when she runs in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

So says Corey Nakatani, who rode the daughter of Kafwain to a second-place finish in the Grade II La Canada Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 19, her first race beyond 6 ½ furlongs.

“She should benefit from her first time going long,” said Nakatani, fifth in Santa Anita’s riding standings through 30 days with 19 victories.

Let Faith Arise has finished worse than fourth in only one of her eight career starts, that being the Grade III Sen. Ken Maddy at about 6 ½ furlongs on the downhill turf course.

The field for the Santa Maria: Iotapa, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Fiftyshadesofhay, Martin Garcia, 5-2; Ondine, Mike Smith, 3-1; Yahilwa, Tyler Baze, 30-1; Let Faith Arise, Nakatani, 7-2; Golden Production, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1; and Stanwyck, Alex Solis, 4-1.


Bettors who have backed Kent Desormeaux since the Hall of Fame jockey returned to Santa Anita three weeks ago have found a goldmine.

The three-time Eclipse Award winner and three-time Kentucky Derby winner has four wins, two seconds and one third from only 10 mounts, a 40 percent win average and a 70 percent in-the-money average.

But more important to his supporters at the mutuel windows, none of his winners have been favored. They have paid $13, $132.40, $13.20 and $14, a total win return of $172.60.

A $2 win bet on each of his 10 horses would have resulted in a profit of $152.60.

“He’s absolutely one of the greatest riders I’ve ever seen out here,” said veteran trainer David Bernstein, who gave Desormeaux a leg up on many horses, including The Wicked North, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding older male in 1994, when he was disqualified from the Santa Anita Handicap on a decision that remains controversial to this day.

“Of course, he rode The Wicked North very successfully,” Bernstein said, adding with a chuckle, “in most cases,” the reference being to the Big ’Cap DQ. “Kent had one bad one. What are you going to do, 20 years later? We did our best to fight the disqualification (through litigation) and didn’t win.

“Kent’s a great rider and I’m glad to see him back. The fact is, horses are running their eyeballs out for for him. In the San Antonio he ran second on a horse that looked to me like he had NO chance. In fact, I kept wondering to myself, ‘Why is that agent putting him on these kinds of horses?’ And then they run the best race they’ve run in years.

“That shows you he’s got the touch.”


Condolences to family and friends of Bill Currin, who bred, owned, and trained Stormello, winner of the Grade I Hollywood Futurity in 2006. Currin died at 77 on Feb. 11 at his home in Solana Beach after a long illness. His wife of 58 years, Betty, was at his side, as she had been since they became childhood sweethearts in North Carolina.

The Currins raced several major stakes winners. Bill trained their homebred Memorette, a graded stakes-winning earner of $896,753. “Bill was a good guy who loved racing,” said Julio Canani, who trained for him for several years. “He would come to the track every morning at Del Mar. Both he and his wife enjoyed the game very much.”

FINISH LINES: Martin Pedroza was due to be discharged from Arcadia Methodist Hospital today after being treated for a fracture in his left leg following a starting gate mishap on Feb. 7. “Two months (until his return) is a good gauge,” said his agent, Richie Silverstein. “It could be shorter; it could be longer.” . . . Richard Mandella has two-time champion Beholder back galloping as the 4-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes owned by B. Wayne Hughes prepares for her first breeze and eventual return to the races. A long-range goal is the Grade I, $1 million Ogden Phipps at 1 1/16 miles on Belmont Stakes Day, June 7. “We’ll do something (race-wise) with her before that,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “But we’ll let her tell us when she’s ready.” . . . Simon Callaghan is optimistic Bajan will run well in her first race on grass, the $75,000 Sweet Life Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs Saturday. “She’s by Speightstown so she should handle the turf,” the trainer said . . . Victor Espinoza was impressed on his first-ever visit to Los Alamitos Saturday to work San Felipe Stakes contender California Chrome for trainer Art Sherman. “I liked it,” the 15-year riding veteran said of the Orange County track. “I had never been there. As long as the horses like it there, it’s good for me, too.” . . . There is still time to start a new "Show Streak" or "Win Streak" in ShowVivor. Fans are never eliminated in the revamped version. In the "Show Streak" category, the goal is to build the longest streak between Dec. 26 and June 29. If your horse does not finish third or better, players can start a new streak the next day . . . Reminder: Santa Anita’s $150,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 is now offered Saturdays and Sundays . . . Riding immortal Johnny Longden would have been 107 years old tomorrow, Valentine’s Day . . . Tom Quigley’s guest handicappers this holiday weekend will be Bryan Carney, Thoroughbred owner, breeder and horse player and owner of the 100/1 Cocktail Lounge in Arcadia, on Saturday; 1986’s leading apprentice rider and current jockey agent Corey Black on Sunday; and Thoroughbred owner and horse player Bob Bone on Monday. The seminars start at 11:20 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Jockey T.J. Pereira is expected to make his Santa Anita debut shortly. The 37-year-old native of Brazil, who tacks 116 pounds, has won 2,071 races, including the 2010 Dubai World Cup on Gloria de Campeao . . . Jockey Chantal Sutherland Kruse has been suspended three days (Feb. 23, 27 and 28) for causing interference resulting in a disqualification of her mount, Mom Nana Petrie, from first to second, last Sunday . . . Zoe Metz, daughter of trainer Jeff Metz and his wife, clocker Jennifer Metz, turns 18 on Sunday. She has grown up at Santa Anita and currently works in the Marketing Dept. as "interactive media coordinator,” taking photos for the Santa Anita twitter, instagram, and facebook feeds. She started with the @clockerscorner twitter in January of 2012 with only 22 followers, but now has more than 5,400 followers. An accomplished, self-taught photographer, her first memorable picture was of Zenyatta after she won the Lady's Secret Stakes in 2009. It was also Zoe’s first picture for the annual Santa Anita calendar, for which she has made contributions every year since. She also is a photographer for Eclipse Sportswire, and will shoot the Kentucky Derby on May 3.