Mandella gets just desserts at breakfast

Trainer receives accolades after record Breeders'

Horse Racing

October 27, 2003|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

ARCADIA, Calif. - After a while, Kenny Rice decided just to keep Richard Mandella on the podium.

Rice, the sports commentator, served as emcee yesterday of the traditional winners' breakfast the morning after the Breeders' Cup. Under a tent erected next to the paddock at Santa Anita Park, site of the 20th Breeders' Cup, reruns of the eight races were shown, and then Rice invited connections of the winning horses to the podium.

Because Mandella's horses won half the races, Rice invited the trainer to stay put, front and center. That was difficult for Mandella, who was giddy. He had reason to be.

Mandella, 53, a respected California trainer, saddled horses in seven of the eight Breeders' Cup races. Four won, setting a Breeders' Cup record, and two others earned checks, one finishing second, the other fourth.

His horses earned $4,564,040, more than doubling the previous record of $2.1 million set in 1988 by D. Wayne Lukas. The traditional trainer's cut is 10 percent, or, in this case, about $456,404.

No trainer in this country has had a richer day. Saddling the winners of four Breeders' Cup races - at odds of 2-1, 14-1, 14-1 and 26-1 - was perhaps the greatest single-day feat of any American trainer.

"It's crazy luck," said Mandella, typically modest. "Other people could have done the same thing under the circumstances. ... I'd like to be able to tell you I'm right all the time. But a lot of days I walk over there [with a horse] and drag myself back after not being right. This game's good for giving you a lot of that and a little of the other."

He said that Pleasantly Perfect, his 5-year-old Classic winner, and Johar, his 4-year-old Turf winner (in a dead heat with High Chaparral), would race next year. He tried not to talk about the future of his 2-year-old winners - Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies and Action This Day in the Juvenile - even though people kept asking.

Would he consider running Halfbridled in the Kentucky Derby?

"I don't want to talk about it," he said. "I put the same stop on the owner. ... I hope she's so good I have to worry about that."

Can Action This Day break the so-called jinx of the 19 previous Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners' failing to win the Kentucky Derby?

"Which theory are you going to believe - if you win the Juvenile you can't win the Derby, or if you don't run at 2 you can't win the Derby?" Mandella said. "That jinx is [ridiculous]. What are you going to say when three horses do it in a row to balance out the percentages?"

Mandella said that winning the Juvenile Fillies - the second Breeders' Cup race - with Halfbridled set the stage for the rest of the day. The undefeated filly was the only Mandella horse who was favored.

"The fear of losing is much greater than the thrill of winning," Mandella said. "It was a responsibility to win with Halfbridled. There was great pleasure in the rest of the day."

NOTES: Alex Solis won the inaugural Bill Shoemaker Award as the outstanding jockey in the Breeders' Cup. Solis won the final two races (Turf and Classic) after finishing second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh in the earlier races. ... The 21st Breeders' Cup will be held Oct. 30, 2004, at Lone Star Park in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas.

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