08/28/2012 12:54PM

Del Mar: Mandella hoping Beholder can bring some excitement in Debutante

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Beholder, trained by Richard Mandella, will make her next start in Saturday's Del Mar Debutante.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Richard Mandella has made his mark in the last 20 years with older horses who have won races throughout the world.

This weekend, a 2-year-old filly may carry his stable to its biggest win of the year.

Beholder starts in Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Debutante, a key prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

Mandella has had success with 2-year-old fillies in the past – notably the 2003 division champion Halfbridled – but it is his greater success with older horses that put him in racing’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

A Henny Hughes filly owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Beholder won her second start, which came in a maiden race here July 22. She won the 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 3 1/4 lengths and will be stretching out to seven furlongs in the Grade 1 Debutante.

Mandella has seen development from Beholder in recent weeks. When she worked six furlongs in 1:14 last Saturday, she was not urged, typical of her works since she arrived from Kentucky in the spring.

“She showed us nice stuff from the start,” Mandella said. “She was pretty fit. We never asked her to do it. We were looking for slower times than she wanted to do. She’s still doing that, and that’s a good sign.”

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The 61-year-old Mandella has won 17 million-dollar races, including six in the Breeders’ Cup, but he has endured a quiet patch in recent years. His last Grade 1 win was Champ Pegasus’s victory in the Clement Hirsch Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2010.

Last year, his stable won five stakes, 28 races, and earned $1,886,494. By comparison, he won 51 races and more than $9.8 million in 2003, the year he won four Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita. That day surpassed his two Breeders’ Cup wins at Santa Anita in 1993.

Those days are missed around the stable.

“I liked ‘03 better and ‘93 wasn’t bad,” he said.

Mandella still trains Champ Pegasus, now 6, who is nearing his first start since a second in the 2011 Clement Hirsch. He was second in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf behind Dangerous Midge. Another of Mandella’s older horses, the 5-year-old Setsuko, has been sidelined since his runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Handicap last March and is out of training until 2013.

Mandella has trained many major-stakes-winning older horses, including Dare and Go, Gentlemen, Kotashaan, Pleasantly Perfect, Siphon, Sandpit, and The Tin Man.

“I miss having the old horses that were around,” Mandella said. “We used to have so many.

“Sometime along the line, I fell out of favor for people sending me horses from Europe or South America. I am taking applications.”

His stable is down from 70 horses about five years ago to 34 at Del Mar this summer.

In recent years, Mandella’s personal focus has changed. He is closely allied with Gerald Ford of Dallas, who raced Pleasantly Perfect and owns Diamond A Farm in Kentucky. Diamond A Farm is largely a commercial enterprise, and Mandella is part of the team that assesses the farm’s yearling prospects before sales. Those yearlings are meant to be sold; very few race for Mandella.

“You’ve got to tell people that you’ll sell the good ones or they won’t buy from you,” he said. “That’s the idea of having that farm. It takes a lot of money to keep that farm rolling.”

Hughes, also active as a breeder, bought Beholder for $180,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale. If she runs well Saturday, Beholder will move closer to a start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

This weekend could provide the highlight of the year for Mandella. Aside from Beholder, he also runs Jimmy Creed in Friday’s $100,000 El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds. Smart Ellis runs for Mandella in Sunday’s $300,000 Del Mar Derby.

A win in a major stakes race or two would put Mandella back at the forefront of the national racing scene. It is something that he has missed.

“We don’t have the excitement,” he said. “It makes you appreciate it.”

Tiny Montgomery More than 1 year ago
Never heard a negative comment on Mandella. Kotashaan one of my all time personal favorites, and what a warrior The Tin Man was. To this day I still can't believe Johar didn't win that race outright in 2003.
Gregory Sally More than 1 year ago
he is one class act. the best trainer in the world is my opinion. i worked for him back in the day when mamaison and phone trick were the stars of the barn. i bought a horse from him and he did everything to try and heip me with the horse. there will be more champs in the stable. greg sally
John Flynn More than 1 year ago
MR Mandella Is Great. Dare & Go beating Cigar was Incredible. His son (Gary)shoud have won the Breeders Cup in 2005 with Taste of Paridise. But, Garrett Gomez messed up & Dutrow's Horse won it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Phone Chatter and Action This Day
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pleasantly Perfect also won the Dubai World Cup
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Richard Mandella is a class act. I still remember 4 Breeder Cup wins the year Pleasantly Perfect won the Classic.
Steve More than 1 year ago
I think part of the reason Mandella and guys like Ron Ellis don't tend to get the horses of power owners is because owners want the quick turnaround, they want to get a few great races early on and retire them to stud, which generally isn't going to happen with guys like Mandella and Ellis who tend to race horses into shape, bringing them along safely and steadily. I don't think it's a coincidence so many burn out early due to injury because those tend to be rushed through races before they are fully mature and aren't given the proper rest before running again. not many owners have the patience to follow the path that Mandella and Ron Ellis want to take with horses, which in the long run benifits the horse.
Todd Elliot More than 1 year ago
WHAT about gary mandella, I think he has had one win in ten years..
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
I always felt that if I ever had a really nice horse, Mandella is the guy I would turn to. Another class act who sets the bar very high when it comes to horsemanship and character.