Congrats a Classic Case for Mandella?
When trainer Richard Mandella upset Cigar with Dare And Go in the 1996 Pacific Classic, the winner paid $81.20. But Mandella also has won the Classic twice with favorites -- Pleasantly Perfect last year and Gentlemen in 1997. This time, on Sunday, he’s back with another longshot in Congrats, who’s 10-1 on the morning line.
Although Congrats has won only one of seven starts since Claiborne Farm transferred him from New York trainer Shug McGaughey to Mandella late last year, the horse has had some success in California. He won the San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita and ran second to Rock Hard Ten, another Mandella-trained horse, in this year’s Santa Anita Handicap.
Mandella thought enough of Congrats to ship him 8,500 miles, to Dubai, for a $6-million race in March. Congrats was a badly beaten fifth, and since then he has been second in an ungraded stake at Hollywood Park and third in the Hollywood Gold Cup. In the Gold Cup, Congrats finished 9 3/4 lengths behind Lava Man, who’s the 9-5 favorite in the $1-million Pacific Classic.
“He’s due,” Mandella said of Congrats. “He ran a good race in the Santa Anita Handicap, and a decent race at Hollywood Park, but it’s been a while since he’s run a really good race. Maybe the timing will be right for him to pick it up again.”
Congrats, a well-bred son of A.P. Indy, has earned $978,960 without ever winning a Grade I stake. He has seven wins, two seconds and five thirds in 21 tries.
Mandella, who has three wins, four seconds and one third from 12 Pacific Classic starters, is running Berbatim, another longshot, in today’s $300,000 Del Mar Oaks. The Hall of Fame trainer won the Oaks with Dessert in 2003.
Polish Times was an eyebrow-raising entry in the Pacific Classic on Wednesday night. “You can’t win if you’re not in,” trainer Nick Hines said then, but Hines had something else in mind. He’s now expected to run the 8-year-old gelding in today’s fifth race, which is worth only $65,000.
That’s a better fit for Polish Times, who has run 39 times but finished sixth the only two times he has been in stakes. He would have been more than 50-1 in the Pacific Classic, and might be no better than the fifth choice in today’s race. One other thing: Polish Times is eligible to be claimed for $62,500 out of today’s race. He has been in Hines’ barn for only three races, since he was claimed for $35,000 at Saratoga last year.
Behaving Badly put away Dee Dee’s Diner in the stretch and went on to a 1 1/4 -length win over Freakin Streakin in Friday night’s $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap.
The win was the third straight for Behaving Badly, an undefeated Bob Baffert trainee. The 6 1/2 -furlong Rancho Bernardo was Behaving Badly’s first stakes start. All of the 4-year-old filly’s races have come at Del Mar, where she broke her maiden by eight lengths a year ago and returned this year with another win on July 24.
Behaving Badly, owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt III, gave jockey Victor Espinoza his third win on the card.
The country’s handicap division took another jolt with the retirement announcement of Roses In May, who was being groomed for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.
Roses In May, who was training at Saratoga, suffered a torn tendon of the left foreleg in a workout earlier this month.
Other older horses to fall by the wayside, via retirement, include Ghostzapper, last year’s horse of the year, and Eddington.
Roses In May, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Dale Romans, won the Dubai World Cup in his last start. He ran only 13 times but won eight and earned $5.4 million. He finished second to Ghostzapper in last year’s Breeders’ Cup.
Roses In May is scheduled to stand at stud in Japan.
Jim Murray’s typewriter will be on display at Del Mar today. The 1946 Remington Rand, which The Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning writer used to write thousands of columns, was bought at a Sotheby’s auction in New York by Steve Soboroff, a Los Angeles businessman and sports collector. The typewriter and other Murray memorabilia were sold in a lot for $18,000. Murray died in 1998, the day after he wrote a column about Free House winning the Pacific Classic.