Trainer Richard Mandella confirmed Sunday that Gentlemen, a horse he has seen lose only once, will join Sandpit and Siphon to give him a three-way attack for next Sunday’s $1-million Santa Anita Handicap.
Earlier in the day, Gentlemen was assigned high weight of 123 pounds for the Big ‘Cap, followed by Sandpit with 121 pounds and Siphon at 120. The first non-Mandella horse on the list of weights for probable starters is Editor’s Note with 119 pounds.
Because Gentlemen is also scheduled to run in the $4-million Dubai World Cup, 8,800 miles away in the United Arab Emirates, on March 29, Mandella had first considered skipping the Big ‘Cap with his 5-year-old Argentine-bred. Last year, before Soul Of The Matter ran second to Cigar in the inaugural Dubai race, Mandella didn’t run him in the Big ‘Cap.
“Soul Of The Matter was a delicate horse, and Gentlemen is anything but,” Mandella said Sunday. “Gentlemen has convinced me that he can run in both of these races. The owners left the decision up to me. It’s an aggressive agenda, but the horse is doing so well. He’ll get his rest when we get back from Dubai.”
Gentlemen’s career began in Argentina, where he won four of six starts. Under Mandella, he ran sixth in his first race before launching his current five-race winning streak. In his last start, he carried 122 pounds while winning the San Antonio Handicap Feb. 2.
Mandella’s three horses, who will run uncoupled in the betting because of different ownership, are expected to be the first three betting choices for the 1 1/4-mile dirt race. Sandpit, who has run only once on dirt, has won 13 of 32 starts and earned $2 million. Siphon, last year’s Hollywood Gold Cup winner, has won 11 of 20 and earned $1.1 million. They are both Brazilian-breds.
Gentlemen, who trains with most of Mandella’s horses at Hollywood Park, worked seven furlongs Friday in 1:26.
“All three of my horses are doing great,” Mandella said. He will become the first trainer to saddle three horses in the Big ‘Cap since Charlie Whittingham in 1989. Whittingham, who ran four horses in the race in 1976 and has run three horses seven times,has none in the Big ‘Cap this year.
As many as 11 horses could run in the 60th Big ‘Cap. The other probable entrants and their weights: Marlin, 117 pounds; Formal Gold and Kingdom Found, 115 apiece; Chequer and The Barking Shark, both 114; Just Java, 113; and Zanferrier, 112.