ARCADIA, Calif. He's been respected for years on the West Coast racing scene. Now Richard Mandella will be famous at tracks around the world.
The trainer won a record four races at the Breeders' Cup on Saturday, capping perhaps the greatest day in racing history when Pleasantly Perfect won the $4 million Classic at Santa Anita.
With the temperature reaching 99, nobody came close to enjoying the day more than Mandella, a quiet Californian who sports a Panama hat and often works in the shadow of Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas.
Mandella won the $1 million Juvenile Fillies with Halfbridled, the $1.5 million Juvenile with long-shot Action This Day and the $2 million Turf with Johar, who dead-heated with High Chaparral.
Julie Krone made some history, too, becoming the first female jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race aboard Halfbridled.
Ten years ago, Mandella won two Breeders' Cup races plus two stakes on the undercard at this track. But these four top those four by a mile.
''I didn't believe this could happen again,'' Mandella said. ''But it happened bigger and better.''
While Mandella celebrates an early birthday present he turns 53 on Nov. 5 it was Pleasantly Perfect's stunning win in the Classic that really had the crowd of 51,648 roaring.
With 3-1 favorite Medaglia d'Oro and Congaree locked in a stretch duel, Pleasantly Perfect charged past them on the outside and won by 1 1/2 lengths. Medaglia d'Oro, trained by Bobby Frankel, finished second for the second year in a row. Dynever was third.
Frankel, who went 0-for-8 on the day and saw his Breeders' Cup record sink to 2-for-57, was hard-pressed for words. ''I don't have anything to say right now.''
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide was never in contention and finished ninth in the 10-horse field. Defending champion Volponi, who ran the final race of his career, was last.
Pleasantly Perfect, a 5-year-old son of Pleasant Colony, came into the race off a victory in the Goodwood Handicap three weeks ago on this track. Clearly, the horse loves the course.
And Mandella, elected to the Hall of Fame two years ago, has a lot of happy owners.
Of the seven horses he saddled Saturday, four won and two others finished in the money. Total earnings: $4,564,040, a North American record. His four wins topped Lukas' three victories in the 1988 Breeders' Cup.
Trainers earn a standard 10 percent, but Mandella certainly seems in line for a bonus or two.
''I never thought lightning would strike twice, but it struck harder,'' said Mandella, also known as the trainer of Dare and Go, who ended Cigar's 16-race winning streak in 1996.
Leaving from the No. 2 post, Pleasantly Perfect was still seventh with a half-mile to go, and fifth with a quarter-mile left. But when jockey Alex Solis swung his horse outside, Pleasantly Perfect responded with a surge to blow past Medaglia d'Oro and Baffert's Congaree.
''At the quarter-pole, I said it's time to go out now,'' Solis said. ''I got him out in the clear, and down the stretch, he was coming so strong. I knew he was going to give me a big kick like he always does. I moved my whip to my left hand and he just blew by those horses.''
Pleasantly Perfect, winner of six of 13 career starts, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.88 and returned $30.40, $9.60 and $6.60.
Congaree was fourth, followed by Hold That Tiger, Perfect Drift, Evening Attire, Ten Most Wanted, Funny Cide and Volponi.
Funny Cide, running for the first time in nearly three months, never got going with Krone aboard for the first time. It wasn't the jockey, trainer Barclay Tagg said.
''This horse doesn't like hot weather, but we took our shot,'' Tagg said. ''It was a lot to ask for him to face older horses in this spot after a long layoff.''
The upset virtually assures that the retired Mineshaft will end up as Horse of the Year. Medaglia d'Oro, Perfect Drift and even Funny Cide were ready to stake a claim to the title with a Classic victory.
The win was worth $2,080,000 for Gerald J. Ford, who owns Diamond A Racing Corp.
Frankel had three favorites that failed him Medaglia d'Oro, Sightseek in the Distaff and Aldebaran in the Sprint.
With a smoky haze over the San Gabriel Mountains backdrop because of wildfires in the area, there were other huge upsets: Adoration returned $83.40 in winning the $2 million Distaff; and Cajun Beat returned $47.60 in the $1 million Sprint. Action This Day paid $55.60 in the Juvenile.
High Chaparral, from Ireland, successfully defended his title in the Filly & Mare Turf, and didn't mind sharing the victory with Johar. It was the first dead heat in Breeders' Cup history.
But High Chaparral's win still gave the Europeans a sweep of the turf races. Six Perfections led a 1-2 French sweep with a victory in the $1.5 million Mile, and Islington led a 1-2-3 Irish sweep by taking the $1 million Filly & Mare Turf. Juvenile Fillies
With a sensational burst of speed in the stretch, Halfbridled carried Krone to a 2 1/2-length victory over Ashado.
''She turned for home and just was holding the horses off,'' Krone said. ''She put one ear up and one back, and whenever somebody came to her, she kept pulling with this beautiful, tremendous stride. She's just amazing.''
Krone, who retired in 1999 after more than 3,500 wins and several horrifying spills, returned to racing nearly a year ago. She is the first female rider to be inducted into racing's Hall of Fame and first to win a Triple Crown race, taking the 1993 Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair.
Halfbridled paid $6.60 to win, with Ashado second and Victory U.S.A third. Juvenile
Action This Day rallied from last to win by 2 1/4 lengths over stablemate Minister Eric, making the colt the early favorite for next year's Kentucky Derby. Distaff
Adoration led wire-to-wire and gave jockey Patrick Valenzuela his first Breeders' Cup win since 1992. Adoration beat Elloluv by 4 1/2 lengths. Sighteek was fourth.
Six Perfections, the only filly in the field, gave jockey Jerry Bailey his 14th career Breeders' Cup win tops among all riders. Six Perfections, bred in France, won in 1:33.86 and returned $12.60. Frankel's Peace Rules was last. Sprint
Cajun Beat seized the lead from pacesetter Zavata and won by 2 1/4 lengths over Bluesthestandard. Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Cajun Beat returned $47.60 to win and covered the six furlongs in 1:07.95 the third fastest in Sprint history.
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