01/06/2006 12:00AM

Mandella accepts what's available


ARCADIA, Calif. - It's not the usual style for trainer Richard Mandella to jump a maiden winner straight into a stakes race. And, truth be told, he would rather have put Peace Chant in an allowance race. One Union, too.

"I tried to run them in an allowance race, but it wouldn't go," Mandella said. "So I had to go here. They're both in the same boat."

They're set to sail on Sunday at Santa Anita in the $75,000 San Miguel Stakes, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds that attracted a large field of 11. There are horses returning from lengthy layoffs, such as One Union and Corazondelcampeon; shipping in from other states, such as Short Circuit and Too Much Bling; or coming off maiden victories, like Peace Chant.

Although he received a moderate 79 Beyer Speed Figure when winning his debut, ran like a seasoned pro. He had to overcome the rail in a 13-horse field by moving up the inside to enter contention down the backstretch before drawing clear late to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Victor Espinoza chose to ride him over One Union.

was a fast debut winner, then finished fourth in the Del Mar Futurity after getting caught up in a wicked pace duel. He emerged from the race with a minor knee injury.

"He seems better. That might have been why he was lugging in," Mandella said.

Too Much Bling makes his first start in California after racing in the Midwest and East. He was third to First Samurai in the Hopeful Stakes, but subsequently disappointed going a mile in the Champagne and Nashua stakes.

"I think it was a little too fast for him going a little too far against horses like First Samurai and Henny Hughes," said Bob Baffert, who trains Too Much Bling. "He will like not having Henny Hughes breathing down his neck."

was one of the most impressive winners of the summer at Hollywood Park, but he has been off since finishing last of four in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. As with One Union and Too Much Bling, he has sharp early speed.

Cause to Believe was scheduled to run last weekend at Bay Meadows, but headed here when a stakes race there was scrapped because of too few entries. Cause to Believe has won three straight stakes races at Golden Gate, Bay Meadows, and Santa Rosa.

The Pharaoh was third to Your Tent or Mine in the Hollywood Prevue.