10/24/2003 11:00PM

Storybook ending for Mandella

Pleasantly Perfect overtakes Medaglia d'Oro to win the Classic, with Dynever in third.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Richard Mandella thought he did well at the 1993 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, when he won two races. The World Thoroughbred Championships returned here for the first time since then this year, and Mandella did twice as well.

The Hall of Fame trainer became the first to win four Breeders' Cup races on one card, and he capped his record-setting day by sending out 14-1 shot Pleasantly Perfect to win the $4 million on a hot, steamy afternoon on which temperatures reached 99 degrees.

Just as he did in 1993, Mandella won both the Juvenile Fillies and the Turf. But he also won the Classic and Juvenile, eclipsing the record of three wins set by D. Wayne Lukas on a seven-race card in 1988.

"I don't know how to describe the feeling," said Mandella, whose seven runners earned $4,564,040 for the day. "I'm still in shock. I didn't believe it could happen again, but it happened bigger and better than ever."

Mandella has never won an Eclipse Award as champion trainer, but this day, on which he secured at least one championship with the 2-year-old filly Halfbridled, could get him that elusive trophy.

The Classic victory was sweet redemption for both Pleasantly Perfect and Mandella. Pleasantly Perfect would have been one of the top choices in last year's Classic at Arlington Park, but Illinois racing rules prevented him from entering after he bled in the test barn following a victory in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap. He won the Goodwood again as a prep this year.

Pleasantly Perfect ($30.40) ran down Medaglia d'Oro in the final strides to win by 1 1/2 lengths under jockey Alex Solis, who was the riding star of the day with two victories. Dynever was another three-quarters of a length back in third. Congaree was fourth and was followed, in order, by Hold That Tiger, Perfect Drift, Evening Attire, Ten Most Wanted, Funny Cide, and Volponi.

Volponi was trying to win the Classic for the second straight year. This was his final start before going to stud.

"We had the same position as last year, but he did not kick the same way," said his jockey, Jose Santos. "When I could see he wasn't going to get anything at the top of the stretch, I just left him alone to take care of him."

Pleasantly Perfect was timed in 1:59.88 for 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track. His victory, coupled with the losses by Medaglia d'Oro and Perfect Drift, likely will make the already retired Mineshaft the Horse of the Year.

The Classic ended a memorable card of racing on a day that turned warm as it wore on. Fears that the Europeans would wilt in the heat proved unfounded, as they won three races, capped off by a one-two-three sweep in the Filly and Mare Turf.

In all, eight races were run, but there were nine winners: In the first dead heat for the win spot in Breeders' Cup history, High Chaparral and Johar hit the line together in the Turf. High Chaparral won the Turf last year, and thus became the sixth horse to win two Breeders' Cup races.

Julie Krone became the first female jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race when the unbeaten Halfbridled won the Juvenile Fillies for Mandella.

Trainer Bobby Frankel had a disastrous day - Medaglia d'Oro was the only one of his eight runners to finish in the money. Medaglia d'Oro was one of four losing favorites from the Frankel barn, including Sightseek in the Distaff, Peace Rules in the Mile, and Aldebaran in the Sprint. Frankel is now 2-for-57 in the Breeders' Cup.

In the Classic, Medaglia d'Oro set out for the lead after bumping with Congaree at the start, and those two set a sharp pace of 22.79 seconds, 46.35, and 1:10.32 for the first six furlongs.

"I couldn't let the other horse go alone on the lead," said Jerry Bailey, who rode Medaglia d'Oro. "I knew I was taking a chance . . . but if I let him shut me down on the inside I'd have been in big trouble."

Pleasantly Perfect was eighth early and avoided an incident on the first turn, where Funny Cide came out suddenly, causing Perfect Drift and Ten Most Wanted to check sharply and lose position. Pleasantly Perfect began a sustained rally on the far turn and caught Medaglia d'Oro with 100 yards remaining.

Solis dedicated the win to Bill Shoemaker, who died two weeks ago.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch