Mike Mitchell celebrates becoming Del Mar's winningest trainer.

Mike Mitchell celebrates becoming Del Mar's winningest trainer.


Mitchell Moves Atop Del Mar Win List

The 63-year-old trainer passes Ron McAnally with his 437th winner at seaside track.

Mike Mitchell placed his name in the Del Mar record books as the track’s winningest trainer when his charge Backwoods Belle won the fifth race Aug. 12 at the Southern California track. The victory is No. 437, one more than Ron McAnally’s total.

Backwoods Belle won the 5 1/2-furlong race by 6 1/4 lengths in 1:03.98 for owner Nicholas B. Alexander. The 2-year-old daughter of Tribal Ruler was claimed from the race for $40,000 by trainer John Sadler for Hronis Racing and La Cresta Farm.

“To be honest, I’m glad to have it over with,” the 63-year-old Mitchell said in a Del Mar release. “And so glad that my wife and family are here with me. (Joining him in the winner’s circle were his wife Denise and his daughters Shea and McCall, as well as McCall’s husband Craig Rounsefell.) My wife was away (on a church mission in Vietnam), and Shea works for Disney and can’t always be here. But today they all were here and that made it even more special.

“My wife is a huge part of my success. She’s the reason I’ve done as well as I have.

“There’s no doubt this is special. To go past Ronnie (McAnally) is something. And to win it for my guy Nick (Alexander) makes it special again. He and I have been together for at least 30 years. He owns a BMW dealership up in Los Angeles, and I can remember my wife doing a commercial for him about 30 years ago.

“When I started this year I didn’t think I was going to do well. I only had about 25 horses and things weren’t looking too good. But then the purses went up--they were high at Hollywood Park and they’re amazing here. And people got interested again. I’ve got owners who want horses again; they want to get back in the game. So things have picked up for me. I’m back in the claiming game and it’s good.

“But I can’t stop here (with one win over the record).”