Updated on 09/15/2011 1:54PM

Frankel, Mandella outnumber 'Cap' field

Benoit & Associates
Kudos, one of the favorites in Saturday's Del Mar Handicap, has drawn rave reviews for winning four of his last five starts.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Since he was gelded last winter, Kudos has emerged as a leading candidate in turf stakes in California, winning four of five starts and finishing second in the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park last month. His record has been a pleasant surprise for trainer Richard Mandella, who is hoping Kudos can win his first graded stakes in Saturday's $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at Del Mar.

"You do things trying to improve a situation, but you don't always get the results," Mandella said. "He fought all the way in the Sunset."

Strength in numbers give Mandella and rival trainer Bobby Frankel an edge in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, run over 1 3/8 miles on turf. Frankel has three starters and Mandella has two in the meet's top race for turf marathoners.

Along with the front-running Kudos, Mandella starts Cagney, who won the restricted Escondido Handicap on Aug. 1.

Frankel starts Northern Quest, the defending champion in the Del Mar Handicap; and Super Quercus and Timboroa, who were third and fourth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap on July 28.

Falcon Flight, the winner of the Stars and Stripes Handicap at Arlington Park on July 1, and Sumati, who is unplaced in five starts in the United States, complete the field.

Northern Quest is trying to become the first horse to win consecutive runnings of the Del Mar Handicap since the race was moved to its current distance in 1986. Arrogate won consecutive runnings in 1955-56 over 1 1/8 miles.

Kudos is the lone front-runner, and has the ability to tow the field through the race. He won the restricted Jim Murray Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf on May 12 with those tactics, his last start before the Sunset on July 15.

Despite that form, it is not his only style: He won an allowance race from a stalking position in April.

"I don't think he has to be on the lead," Mandella said. "He was a little fresh last time. He hadn't run in a couple of months."

Cagney, a Brazilian-bred, won his first race in the United States in the Escondido, emerging between horses to prevail by a half-length. Run over the same course and distance as the Del Mar Handicap, the Escondido was the third stakes win of Cagney's career.

"He just needed a little experience," Mandella said.

Frankel's trio includes the favored entry of Northern Quest and Super Quercus, who are owned by Charles Kenis.

"They're all about equal," Frankel said. "I just hope one of them can get there."

Northern Quest won the Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles last March, and was third in the Sunset Handicap in his first start since finishing last in the Explosive Bid Handicap at Fair Grounds in late March.

Timboroa is hoping to rebound from a loss as the even-money favorite in the Eddie Read. A 5-year-old, he has not won in four starts since the Carleton Burke Handicap last October at Santa Anita, a season that included a Group 1 win in Italy over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Super Quercus is trying the longest race of his career. A 5-year-old, he has never repeated his two-length win in the 1999 Hollywood Derby due to a series of minor setbacks. The Read was his first start since January and was encouraging to Frankel.

"If Super Quercus gets the distance, he probably the best of three," Frankel said. "He relaxed really well the other day. With a slow pace, he'll be all right."

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