Veteran Mitchell has Derby 'Gold Rush' in Mind

(from Santa Anita notes)
Mike Mitchell has been training nearly 30 years but has never run a horse in the Kentucky Derby. If the 55-year-old Bakersfield, Calif. native gets to Churchill Downs on May 1, his hopes rest with Quinton's Gold Rush.

"I began training in 1974 but I've never run a horse in the Derby," said Mitchell, who plans to start Quinton's Gold Rush in Saturday's $200,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) at one mile. If all goes well, he'll then use the April 3 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) as a steppingstone to the Run for the Roses.

Quinton's Gold Rush worked six furlongs Sunday at Hollywood Park in 1:13 1/5 in his final major drill for the San Rafael.

Corey Nakatani rides Quinton's Gold Rush, a chestnut son of Wild Rush who is coming off a 3 ½-length maiden victory on Jan. 18.

"We'll be ready and I'm sure a mile is going to be his best race but a mile and an eighth is what I want," Mitchell said. "Lion Heart certainly is the horse to beat. But my goal is the Kentucky Derby so this is just perfect, a month before the Santa Anita Derby and then a month until the Kentucky Derby.

"That's my game plan. If I get beat in the first one and win the next two, I'll be a happy camper. I've never run a horse in the Derby. I went to it once, in 1981 when Pleasant Colony won. My owners wanted to take us so I shipped a $10,000 claimer named Jeffervescent to Churchill Downs and he won on Derby day. That's as close as I've come.

"I took my wife and we had a lot of fun, but I said I never wanted to go back unless I ran a horse in the Derby."

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