Richard Mandella won four races on the Breeders' Cup card in 2003 to get the most wins on a Breeders' Cup card in the history of the event (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
By Tom Pedulla, America’s Best Racing
ARCADIA, Calif. – We all hope for magical days.
Births. Weddings. Honeymoons. College graduations.
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella experienced what must have felt like all of the above in one glorious afternoon. He saddled a record four winners when the Breeders’ Cup World Championships were held at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 25, 2003.
“It is hard to describe what it’s like. It’s kind of like being in shock all day,” he said Wednesday as he made his way to trackside to watch one of his horses train. “You hope to win one of these things.”
Mandella made the most of 36 Breeders’ Cup starters, producing seven victories and ranking eighth all-time with $9,126,960 in earnings. But there is no telling when, or if, another trainer will reach the winner’s circle more than Mandella did on an afternoon as blazing as he was. The official temperature was measured at 99 degrees.
The winning started when Halfbridled teamed with Julie Krone to take the Juvenile Fillies. Mandella continued his 2-year-old success when Action This Day and David Flores made it their day in the Juvenile.
Then came the Turf and a finish to take anyone’s breath away. Did Irish-bred High Chaparral hit the wire first or was it Mandella trainee Johar? After prolonged scrutiny of the photo finish, it was determined that the naked eye could not possibly separate them. The first official dead heat in Breeders’ Cup history was declared.
It was then that Mandella allowed himself to pause, to appreciate what was happening so fast. “I’m so busy going back and forth,” he recalled. “I didn’t really have time to think about it until before the Classic and I said, ‘How could this have happened?’ “
The pressure mounted in the tense minutes before the Classic. “I realized Pleasantly Perfect was carrying the grandstand on his back,” he said. “As great as he was, he came through and did the job.”
There will be no repeat of that for the patient and talented Mandella this year. He will send out only two starters, one on Friday and one on Saturday, both with high hopes accompanying them. Indy Point and ageless Gary Stevens are rated as the third choice at 9-2 in the $3 million Turf, behind The Fugue (3-1) and comebacking Point of Entry (4-1).
Beholder, Mandella’s 2-year-old champion last season, is a 5-2 third choice in the $2 million Distaff. That loaded six-horse field is headed by two-time defending champion Royal Delta (8-5) and leading 3-year-old Princess of Sylmar (9-5).
Indy Point, an Argentine-bred, was sent to Mandella last year at the end of his 3-year-old campaign. The trainer, as is his wont, took his time before turning him loose for a victory in an ungraded stakes race at Del Mar in late July. Indy Point was a disappointing 13th in the Arlington Million before revving up for the Breeders’ Cup with a 1 ¼-length score in the John Henry (G2) at Santa Anita on Sept. 29.
“He couldn’t look any better,” he said of the gleaming chestnut colt.
The same can be said of Beholder, a striking bay filly. “She has grown and matured into a real nice 3-year-old filly that’s about as good as she can get at this point,” Mandella said.
Beholder owns five victories in six starts at Santa Anita, yet another reminder of how powerful the home-course advantage can be for Mandella.