10/15/2008 11:00PM

Mine That Bird a hot Mandella pick-up


In 2003, the last time the Breeders' Cup was held at Santa Anita, trainer Richard Mandella stole the show, winning four of the eight races. When the Breeders' Cup returns to Santa Anita next weekend, Mandella will have only two runners in the 14 races run over two days.

As of Thursday morning, Mandella had yet to lay eyes on one of those runners, Mine That Bird, who was purchased privately by one of Mandella's clients, Double Eagle Farm, after his last race. Mine That Bird was expected to arrive in Southern California Thursday afternoon after vanning from Canada to Lexington, Ky., Wednesday night and flying from Lexington to California.

Mine That Bird, a winner of 4 of 5 starts, was one of 16 horses pre-entered for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, which will be run on Oct. 25. He was one of four Juvenile horses that were also pre-entered in the $1 million Juvenile Turf, though the Juvenile is his first preference.

The Juvenile, run at 1 1/16 miles over Santa Anita's new Pro-Ride surface, figures to be a wide-open affair given the fact graded stakes winners Vineyard Haven, Charitable Man, and Run Away and Hide were not pre-entered.

Mine That Bird raced in Canada for David Cotey, who trained and was half-owner of the gelded son of Birdstone who was purchased for a mere $9,500 last October as a yearling. His most recent victory came in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes, his first time going two turns.

Mandella said he watched that race on tape and liked what he saw.

"He looks like a very professional colt - that's going to help in a big field like this," said Mandella, who ran one-two in the 2003 Juvenile with Action This Day and Minister Eric. "He sure has done what he's been asked. We'll ask him a little bigger question."

Had he not sold the horse, Cotey said he was leaning against running Mine That Bird in the Juvenile primarily because the entry fees and shipping and staying in California "made it a little expensive for us."

Cotey does believe that, with the possible exception of Lane's End Breeders' Futurity winner Square Eddie, Mine That Bird "can fit in very well with those horses."

Though Mine That Bird won the Grey, Cotey felt the horse was compromised by the pace scenario that day.

"His best way [of running] is sitting off the pace five or six lengths and taking a run at them," Cotey said. "In both of his last two races he ended up right near the front, a less-than-perfect trip, and still managed to win. I think the race will set up where he'll show his best performance."

Chantal Sutherland, who recently moved her tack to Southern California, rode Mine That Bird to victory in his last three starts. Mandella said she is one of a couple of riders under consideration to ride Mine That Bird in the Juvenile.

Mandella hopes that Mine That Bird's five races will give him an edge over some of his less-experienced rivals. However, Action This Day raced only twice before winning the Juvenile.

"Action This Day had grown up fast, he didn't need a lot of races," Mandella said. "I had the feeling he was up to doing something like that. Sometimes those feelings I had were just gaffes."

On Oct. 25, 2003, Mandella had no gaffes. In addition to winning the Juvenile, he won the Classic with Pleasantly Perfect, the Turf with Johar - who dead-heated with High Chaparral - and the Juvenile Fillies with Halfbridled.

"I was in shock most of the day, but you didn't have much time moving from once race to the next when you got them back to back," Mandella said. "I didn't have time to enjoy it much until it was over; then it was like somebody shot me, I couldn't believe it."

* With the field limited to 14, the connections of Gallant Son and Forty Thieves need defections to get in. One possible defection could be Elusive Bluff, who earned an automatic berth into the Juvenile Turf by virtue of his victory in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont on Oct. 1. Trainer Eric Guillot said Thursday that a weekend workout over the synthetic surface at Hollywood Park would determine which race Elusive Bluff would end up in.

* Garrett Gomez will replace Tyler Baze aboard Midshipman, who will run for Darley Stable for the first time. Darley's deal to buy all the assets of Stonerside Stable was completed last week. Darley will also be represented by Coronet of a Baron, who will be ridden by Alan Garcia.