10/24/2003 11:00PM

Santa Anita again is Mandella's world


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Richard Mandella hopes it doesn't take 10 years for the Breeders' Cup to return to Santa Anita.

In 1993, the last time the Breeders' Cup was held here, Mandella won two Breeders' Cup races and four overall on the card. Saturday, Mandella trumped that accomplishment by winning four of the eight Breeders' Cup races at Santa Anita, capped by an upset victory by Pleasantly Perfect ($30.40) in the $4 million Classic.

"I think they just ought to move it here, myself," Mandella said.

In addition to the Classic, Mandella won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Halfbridled ($6.60), the Juvenile with Action This Day ($55.60), and the Turf, in which his Johar ($13.60) dead-heated with defending Turf winner High Chaparral.

Mandella also saddled The Tin Man, who ran fourth in the BC Turf, and Redattore, who ran third in the $150,000 Seabiscuit Handicap later on the card.

In 1993, Mandella said, he was in shock from his big day and by the time he realized what had happened, everybody was gone.

"I'm still in shock," said Mandella, a superstitious sort. "I didn't believe this could happen again, but it happened bigger and better."

Jockey Alex Solis, who rode two of Mandella's winners, Johar and Pleasantly Perfect, said he could sense this day coming the way Mandella's horses had been training.

"For the last three weeks, seeing the job he was doing and the way the horses were going, every day they were getting stronger and stronger," Solis said. "I didn't want to say that to him because he's a little loco."

Mandella's day eclipsed the previous best Breeders' Cup Day by a trainer when D. Wayne Lukas won three races on the card in 1988. Mandella also became the third trainer to sweep the two juvenile races, joining Lukas and Pat Byrne.

Mandella was expected to win the Juvenile Fillies with Halfbridled, though the filly showed an exceptional quality overcoming post 14. In the Juvenile, Mandella had three of the 12 runners, and he pulled a huge upset with Action This Day, who won the race at 26-1. Mandella's Minister Eric finished second and his Siphonizer finished 10th.

Despite Action This Day having had only a maiden win to his credit, Mandella had been touting him all week as a horse that was improving daily.

"It's rare that a young colt would give you confidence like that," Mandella said of Action This Day. "But he did, and when you got it, and you're 53 years old, you gotta go. You might not have tomorrow."

Mandella had also expressed confidence in Johar, who was making his third start after suffering a shoulder injury in the spring.

"I've always thought Johar was as good as any man's horse on the grass," Mandella said.

For one magical day, Mandella was better than any other trainer in the world.