When Mitole decides it is his day to reach the winner's circle, he does so in a fashion that makes you wonder how his record has any blemishes at all.
Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt's bay son of Eskendereya earned his fourth career victory in what has become his trademark blowout fashion when he headed every point of call of his 6 1/4-length cakewalk in the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes May 19 at Pimlico Race Course.
When Mitole broke his maiden at third asking, he teased of his ability by drawing clear to win by 10 lengths in gate-to-wire fashion going six furlongs at Oaklawn Park Feb. 3. Remarkably, Saturday's six-furlong Chick Lang represents the smallest win margin to date for the 3-year-old colt, whose four wins have come by a combined 32 1/4 lengths.
"He's run some awfully big numbers. I've had a lot of horses, and I haven't had one this fast," Bill Heiligbrodt said. "We've liked this horse a lot. He's the epitome of the type of horse we try to buy."
The Steve Asmussen-trained Mitole came into the Chick Lang off a nine-length score in the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn April 12, using his early speed to run his foes into the ground. It was more of the same Saturday. He faced some pressure from Curly's Rocket through the opening quarter-mile in :23.25 and registered the half-mile in :45.93. Coming off the far turn, he left his would-be challengers with nothing but mud to digest as he cruised home under Ricardo Santana Jr. to stop the teletimer in 1:09.29 over the sloppy going.
"He's fast. Wow, he's a special horse," Asmussen said. "His confidence level has gotten better. Just the way he comes into a race and acts during it has been spectacular the past two or three races. I am hoping for the (grade 2) Woody Stephens (at Belmont Park June 9) off this."
Added Bill Heiligbrodt of the day's gloomy conditions, "Who cares about the rain when you have a horse who can run like that?"
Sent off as the 2-5 favorite, Mitole had his eight rivals battling for minor honors. Still Having Fun came on to get second, and Clouded Judgement was third. Pure Shot and Soutache rounded out the top five.
Bred in Kentucky by Edward Cox Jr. out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Miss, Mitole improved his record to four wins from seven starts with $348,710 in earnings. He was purchased by East Hickman Bloodstock for $140,000 out of the 2017 Ocala Breeders' Sales April 2-year-olds in training sale.
Video: Chick Lang S. (BT)
Two races after the Chick Lang, Asmussen and Santana were celebrating the exploits of another handy winner for the trainer-jockey pairing.
Woodford Racing's Switzerland ran his win streak to four when he captured the $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) by 3 1/2 lengths in his first try against graded company. Previously trained by Chad Brown, the 4-year-old son of Speightstown has won all three of his starts since joining Asmussen's barn. He came into the six-furlong Maryland Sprint Stakes off a frontrunning, 2 1/4-length victory against allowance company at Oaklawn Park April 14.
In Saturday's test, Switzerland rated second just to the outside of early pacesetter Red Dragon Tattoo, prompting that rival through an opening quarter-mile in :22.94. Santana and his mount wouldn't stay in a back-seat roll for long as they took over to lead the half-mile in :45.69 and had things their way in the stretch.
"He came into the barn a fast horse, and we've been able to maintain that," Asmussen said. "I think the key to today's race was him being able to get away with going :22 4/5 the first quarter. He came into the barn really fast. He did come with (allowance conditions). But I'm a numbers guy, a 'sheets' guy, and just trying to maintain the ability he came to us with."
Switzerland, the 5-2 second choice, covered the distance in 1:09.43 over a sloppy (sealed) track with favorite Long Haul Bay second and Lewisfield third. Irish Colonel was fourth with Heartwood fifth in the nine-horse field.
Out of the Indian Charlie mare Czechers, Switzerland took eight tries to break his maiden before finally getting over the hump in February at Aqueduct Racetrack. He improved his record to four wins from 11 starts with $273,380 in earnings.
"The progression through his conditions and then the timing from the last day at Oaklawn to today was just ideal," Asmussen said. "I think with a win in a race like this, we will regroup and see what's out there for older sprint horses and take a big swing."
Switzerland was purchased for $500,000 by I.B.S. out of the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale.