Mandella saddles four Breeders' Cup winners

November 03, 2003|by LARRY YANOS

Richard Mandella, often overlooked in the talented West Coast trainers' fraternity, had a day of a lifetime on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Mandella made Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships history by saddling four winners - Halfbridled in the $1,000,000 Juvenile Fillies; Action This Day in the $2,000,000 Bessemer Trust Juvenile; Johar (a deadheat for win) in the $2,000,000 John Deere Turf; and Pleasantly Perfect in the $4,000,000 Classic, powered by Dodge.

In addition to his record number of winners for a Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships day program, Mandella also established a record $4,564,040 for Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships day purses.

The tally: Pleasantly Perfect, $2,080,000; Action This Day, $780,000; Johar, $763,200; Halfbridled, $520,000; Minister Eric, $300,000 for finishing second in the Juvenile; and The Tin Man, $120,840 for finishing fourth in the Turf.


I've known Mandella for years and conducted numerous interviews with him in the mid-1990s when the Hall of Fame horseman and Charles Town-based trainer Vinnie Moscarelli started a "pipeline" between that West Virginia community and the West Coast racetracks - Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

The late Moscarelli, who died in Sept., 1996, and his wife Suzanne owned Country Roads Farm near Charles Town and had an array of outstanding thoroughbreds.

Moscarelli owned some horses with composer Burt Bacharach and would "ready" the thoroughbreds in West Virginia and then send them west, where Mandella would take over the training duties.

Soul of the Matter, Afternoon Deelites and Heartlight No. One were three of the better horses the Moscarellis bred in West Virginia and shipped west.

Moscarelli and Bacharach became partners in 1975. Their most successful horse, Soul of the Matter, finished fifth in the 1994 Kentucky Derby behind Go For Gin, and Afternoon Delites was eighth in the 1995 Derby behind Thunder Gulch.

Soul of the Matter went off at 16.90-1 odds and Afternoon Delites at 8.70-1. Both were ridden by jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Soul of the Matter won seven of 15 of career starts and more than $2.3 million. He was second to Cigar in the 1995 Dubai World Cup.

Moscarelli and Bacharach also owned Afternoon Deelites, who won six stakes and more than $1 million in purse money; and Heartlight No. One, who won five of seven starts as a 3-year-old filly in 1983.

Heartlight No. One won the Eclipse Award for top 3-year-old filly that year.

Months before his death, Moscarelli and his wife moved from their longtime home at Country Roads Farm to another farm in Warwick, Md.

"We are still sending horses out west," Suzanne said in reference to the Moscarelli family which includes son Vince and daughter Lisa. "Dickie Mandella is an outstanding trainer and an outstanding human being. He's very dedicated, very honest as a trainer and is good for the sport of horse racing."

I agree with Suzanne when she noted his dry sense of humor.

"I once asked him, 'Do you prefer to be called Dick, Dickie or Richard?'" He replied, 'Mister' and broke into a wide smile.

Last Sunday, a day following the Breeders' Cup success, Mandella was asked: "With the industry standard being 10 percent of purses going to the trainer, have you met with your accountant yet?"

"I think workers' comp will take care of that," he said in a humorous reference to the high workers' compensation insurance premiums charged in California.

While his name may be a bit obscure to East Coast racing fans, Mandella is well-respected out west.

He has won a number of major stakes races in his career but never the Kentucky Derby.

Maybe 2004 will be the year.

Solis honored

Jockey Alex Solis, who had two victories and one second on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships card, was voted recipient of the inaugural Bill Shoemaker Award.

Named for the late jockey and sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup, the award was voted on by the media and will be awarded each year to a jockey based on their achievements in Breeders' Cup races.

Solis, a 39-year-old native of Panama, won the Breeders' Cup Classic, powered by Dodge with Pleasantly Perfect and finished in a dead-heat for win with Johar in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf. He also guided Minister Eric to a second-place finish in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Charles Town expansion

According to Dick Watson, president of the Charles Town Division/Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, horsemen and owners of Charles Town Races & Slots are still considering expanding the size of the thoroughbred racetrack and moving temporarily across the street to Shenandoah Downs.

"We're still waiting on data from the engineers as to a timetable the work will take," Watson said. "Once we get that information, every Charles Town horsemen will get a copy and have a say. Everyone now has a different interpretation. Upgrade the track? It has different meaning to different people."

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