Handicapping Tip of the Day #58 – The Off the Turf Bomber

Look for These Attributes for an Off-the-turf Winner

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

This is the story of how I gave my buddies a 27-1 winner that won for fun and I think a total of $10 was bet on her.

A few weeks back I picked up my Brisnet Past Performances for the 8th race at Gulfstream Park, an off-the-turf claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime.  First thing I did was look at the MTO (Main Track Only) runner who had drawn into the field and was now the favorite. The four year old filly had so-so early speed and just struck me as a one-paced runner, the type that makes a slow, steady late run that isn’t going to win many races…especially at Gulfstream Park.  She also showed declining speed figures for her 9% trainer.

Immediately, I was interested in who might be able to beat this vulnerable favorite.  The #2, 5, and 12 were all turf runners that had no show little-to-no ability on the main track.  Toss.

That left only the #4, 6, 11, and 13.  The #11 was a terribly slow horse for a bad trainer.  Easy toss.   The #4 had won a maiden $10,000 claimer at Tampa and this was a $25,000 2-life at Gulfstream.   She looked slow and outclassed for this level in South Florida.

That left only two possibilities if I was going to play this race.  The #6 Just A Bit Sassy had run twice on the dirt and had placed twice both times while earning decent figures.  However, she was beaten a total of 18 lengths and had failed to show much early speed.  She was being heavily bet as the second choice and I felt the risk/reward wasn’t there.

#13 Lilo’s Call, on the other hand, had gone wire to wire in her maiden win first time out at Laurel last March.  Off that start she ran a lackluster 6th on the turf (toss).  She was then well beaten in her next two starts in tough allowance races and one of those starts came in the slop.  I only needed to forgive her last start in order to make her a play.

Sometimes you just have to forgive a bad last race for no reason.  Today,  the daughter of Drosselmeyer was making her first start for her new trainer, a low profile but solid 21% trainer John Collins.  She had three solid works for the new barn, a very positive sign that she might revert to her prior good form.  Lilo’s Call was bred to love the distance and dirt, and she was already a proven, front-running winner in a one-turn mile race.  Went I looked at the toteboard on BetPTC.com I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She was 40-1.

I’m a privileged member of the LoneSpeed.com text thread, a select group of really good handicappers.  The small group of six includes superstar handicapper Dylan Donnelly (currently #1 on the NHC Tour) and wanna-be star Justin Dew.

It was 6 minutes to post and I texted my buddies about a longshot that I thought had a big shot.  Radio silence.

They broke from the gate and Lilo’s Call moved up into a perfect stalking position in third, just off the early pace setters.  At the 3/8th pole Miguel Vasquez asked and Lilo responded, cruising to the front.  From there she took command and then proceeded to just run the rest of her rivals off their feet.  She hit the wire 6 3/4 lengths in front.   The MTO favorite plodded along in second.  My phone exploded.

Chart of a longshot off the turf winner

copyright 2020 Equibase.com and Brisnet

The filly paid $57.20 win.  The congrats came in via the text thread, and double NHC qualifer Dew acknowledged that he had a few bucks on her.

Overlays like this aren’t easy to come by.  When you handicap an off the turf race, look for a horse that is proven on the dirt or has an excellent dirt pedigree.  Give the edge to runners with good early speed or strong tactical speed.  Couple that with an angle or two that makes sense, and you have the icing on the cake.   Best of luck!

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – May 31

AGOS Free Horses to Watch & Trip Notes, compliments of Agameofskill.com.  Put these runners in your stable mail notification service.

GULFSTREAM  PARK

PLEASANT ORB (Race 10 stakes @Gulfstream, May 15, 2020) – Another bonehead ride from Jersey Joe Bravo.  He ran this 3yo daughter of Orb right up on the heels of horses on the far turn, causing her to steady and lose precious momentum.  She altered course, swinging out but her finish was too late.

Tampa Paddock

Up close and personal at Tampa Bay Downs paddock. Copyright AGOS

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

PALACES DIAMOND (Race 4 @TAM, May 20, 2020) – 2nd time starter finished well against the grain of the track that was kind to early speed.  It was also her first start in a couple of months, so she can move forward and into the winner’s circle next out.

CELESTIAL ORB (Race 8 @TAM, May 27, 2020) – This was the lone dirt sprint on the card, which is kind of unusual at Tampa or any track.  This 3yo filly got off to a rough start and raced wide but rallied well into the prevailing bias to get up for 2nd.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – May 21

AGOS Free Horses to Watch & Trip Notes, compliments of Agameofskill.com.  Put these runners in your stable mail service.

 

Golden gate turf breakGOLDEN GATE FIELDS

LIVE IT WELL (Race 7 @Golden Gate, May 14, 2020) – strange ride from one of the top local jockeys, Frankie Alvarado.  She was blocked inside and never really given the chance to run her best. Alvarado gave her a 10lb bug boy ride.   Vronsky filly loves the grass and can win back in a similar spot.

FRENCH TUDOR (Race 8 @Golden Gate, May 14, 2020) – this debut runner was looking to make it three firsters in a row for  trainer Sherrie Monroe and DP Racing.  She made a strong, steady run after breaking from the far outside 10 post and just missed getting up for third in a sneaky good performance.   This was a pretty competitive field won by a Ron Ellis firster.

Art Parker’s look at what horse racing can do during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

GULFSTREAM PARK

CHARMAINE’S MIA (Race 10 at GP, May 8, 2020) – The Factor filly ran a really strong 2nd to R Happy Ending, the logical winner of this race for Baxter.  Edgar Zayas, who rode her to her last win at 12-1, was aboard.  Fits at optional 2x, $50,000 claiming level sprinting.  Prefers 5f.

 

SANTA ANITA

OH MARVELOUS ME (Race 6 @Santa Anita, May 15, 2020) – Finished strong in first start for Mark Glatt barn to get up and defeat a competitive field of $25,000 claimers.  Emerald Downs stakes winner has some back class.

 

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

PREPARE FOR GLORY (Race 7 @Tampa, May 9, 2020).  This first time starter from a 0% debut barn drew the rail to boot, which is very tough on a debut runner in general.  The 3yo gelding closed sneaky well for third behind the top 2 betting choices that laid over this field.  Can move forward off this for sharp Jordan Blair outfit.

LIL B QUICK (Race 5 @Tampa, May 9, 2020) – 5yo mare figured to be tough in this $6,250 open claimer but she suffered a trip with multiple excuses.  Managed to get 4th in a sneaky good performance.  Watch back.

Handicapping Tip #52 – Prepare for the 2yos

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – April 23

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes, compliments of Agameofskill.com

GULFSTREAM PARK

COWTOWN (Race 10 at Gulfstream Park, 4/17/2020) – First time turf runner overcame a brutal trip to storm home late as a better-than-it looks winner in the finale.  The son of Tonalist was in traffic throughout, was knocked off stride down the lane, but quickly recovered to burst home in the final furlong.

EAGLES PALACE (Race 10 at Gulfstream Park, 4/17/2020) – Another first time turf runner from the same race as winner Cowtown.  This colt was bumped hard around the first turn.  Around the final turn he was blocked and steadied.  Recovered to rally wide but flattened out late.  Can improve off that effort for trainer Bill Mott.

Did you read Handicapping Tip #53 – Love Them Before You Bet Them.

OAKLAWN PARK

FLAGSTAFF (Race 8 at Oaklawn Park, 4/18/2020) – This guy broke awkwardly, spotting the field 2-3 lengths.  Was trailing the field early on and was actually steadied briefly at the 5/8th pole, further compromising any chance of winning.  Despite that, Flagstaff absolutely blew by the field down the stretch and just missing catching up with 3x Count Fleet Sprint winner Whitmore at the wire.  Impressive performance in defeat.

HOROLOGIST (Race 10 at Oaklawn Park, 4/18/2020) – The 2019 Monmouth Oaks winner wasn’t going to win the G1 Apple Blossom but she lost all chance when rallied into a wall of horses at the top of the lane. From there she had no where to run and actually finished sneaky well to end up in the front half of the field.  Could be a sneaky play next out in the right spot.

50 Cents Pick-5 Pays $525,000 at Gulfstream Park

A bettor who put down 50 cents on an early Pick 5 Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Florida won nearly $525,000 after three of the five winners were severe longshots. Fans weren’t in attendance Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Florida, but one remote bettor was made a very wealthy […]

Saturday’s massive win was the fifth-highest Pick 5 win in North America history. That’s according to Ed DeRosa of brisnet.com, a horseracing information network owned by Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

The record Pick 5 payoff was for $889,726.15 when someone hit the jackpot on August 9, 2013, at Louisiana Downs,” DeRosa said. “The record non-jackpot Pick 5 payoff was $620,827.87 on 2018 @kentuckyderby day. Four people hit that.”

A pick five wager requires selecting the winners of five consecutive races to hit the jackpot.

“Winnings on Pick Five bets are determined by the parimutuel system where all the winning tickets share the pool of money collected (less the money the track takes as commission),” Bet America explains.

As for Saturday’s fortunate customer, his $524,966.20 win on a $0.50 wager equates to traditional sports betting odds of 1,050,000/1.

Kentucky Derby | Triple Crown Watch – The Florida Derby

Betting favorite Tiz The Law dominated in the 2020 Florida Derby in front of no fans last Saturday.  Three runners went very wide around the first turn, including #9 Independence Hall.  Fountain Of Youth winner Et Indien was washed out badly pre-race.  H got over quickly from his outside post but dueled throughout with the eventual runner-up.  He was game to hang on for third in front of my top pick, Governeur Morris, who made a wide run turning for home.  If the latter gets up for second, I win an NHC berth, but alas, thanks a lot Governeur…

Huge longshot Shivaree took advantage of  his inside post and went right to the front.  The son of Awesome Of Course showed a lot by saving some late and outfinishing Et Indien down the lane.

There’s no denying that Sackatoga Stable, of Funny Cide fame, has another nice 3yo in this grandson of Tapit.  He has a great horseman in Barclay Tagg in his corner.  Gulstream Park’s recap of Tiz The Law’s big win in the Florida Derby.

“He is something special. It would be a lot of fun going to Kentucky in five weeks, but that’s not happening, obviously,” Owner Jack Knowlton said. “Now we get to run some more races. Maybe the Wood will come back in play. Maybe we can do a Travers-Derby double. Right now it’s a blank slate. Nobody knows what’s going to happen where or when with all that’s going on in the country.”

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – March 16

Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGOS visitors. Agameofskill.com is an educational website for handicappers.  Thank you for visiting.

GULFSTREAM PARK

ROMAN EMPIRE (Race 5, GP 2/28/2020) – Empire Maker colt moved to the dirt for his second career start and looked like he may have a nice future for trainer Todd Pletcher.  Crushed a decent field and should handle class rise next out.

AS SEEN ON TV (Race 14, Fountain of Youth, GP 2/29/2020) – Lookin At Lucky colt didn’t have the best of trips here as he was stuck racing inside of horses for most of the running.  That’s a tough spot for a young colt but he never gave up and was just bobbed out of the place spot at the wire.   Kelly Breen runner has talent and can improve in the right spot.

Read what Graham Motion and Terry Finley had to say about the FBI  indictments of the slimey Navarro and Servis.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS

POINT OF HONOR (Race 2 at TAM, 3/7/2020) – This was clearly a prep race for the Grade 1 placed runner from last year.  She ran well to be a non-threatening 2nd behind a quality stakes winner and should move forward off this public workout  (Weaver is only 11% with layoff runners).

GOGO SHOES (Race 6 at TAM, 3/7/2020) – This filly ran sneaky well in her debut when 4th and then came back here to improve further as many second time starters do.  She crushed a good looking maiden special weights field on the Derby undercard.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – March 2

track announcer with binocularsHorses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGOS visitors. Agameofskill.com is an educational website for horse racing fans and handicappers.  Thank you for visiting.

GULFSTREAM PARK

TOOK A CAB (Race 2 @GP, Feb. 26, 2020) –  This cheap maiden claimer had run against the bias back on Feb. 7th and returned in a winnable spot here.  Unfortunately, after new rider Jaramillo sent him to the lead he dueled with another horse.  He finally put that one away but those efforts took it’s toll in the final 1/16th of a mile.  Eligible to win back in the right spot.

NEW HOPE ROAD (Race 4 @GP, Feb. 26, 2020) – Quality Road filly closed belatedly for third behind the top 2 logical horses in first start since June. Barn only 8% off long layoffs so she could improve next out.

Racing News: Churchill Downs’ stock upgraded

FREUDIAN FINISH (Race 9 @GP, Feb. 20) – Returned off a layoff for trainer Brendan Walsh and nearly pulled off a big upset.  Got run down late by a sharp closer.  There’s a reason Tyler G. took this mount.  Can move forward off this strong performance.

OAKLAWN PARK

WAR VETERAN (Race 5 @OP, Feb. 27, 2020) – This four year old is rounding into sharp form for the Ron Moquet barn.  4yo sat a great trip stalking the leading duo before taking over and drawing off as much the best.  Should handle the rise to “3 life” company next time out at Oaklawn Park.

SAM HOUSTON

ALWAYS INTHE MUNNY (Race 5 @HOU, Feb. 26, 2020) – 3yo Munnings filly was making only her third start and first for a new barn.  She ran a huge race, giving the odds-on favorite everything she could handle.  Also sports a nice turf pedigree, so watch for dirt or turf.

Pegasus World Cup and Turf Notes

Source: Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Rather than have Zulu Alpha try for a repeat win in the W.L. McKnight (G3) on Jan. 25, owner Michael Hui is opting for a far bigger prize later that afternoon at Gulfstream Park, the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) presented by Runhappy.

Hui said that when trainer Mike Maker laid out the possibilities for the 7-year-old’s first start of 2020 it was an easy decision. Though the McKnight launched a great 2019 season for Zulu Alpha, who won three graded stakes and $1.1 million in purses, Hui was eager to change course.

“The way Mike put it to me is you can go in the McKnight again for $200,000 and you will be even money or you can take a shot,” Hui said. “He knew when he said that…I’m all about taking a shot. Why not?”

That is pretty much the philosophy the Little Rock, Ark. resident has used since he made the transition from fan to owner in 2010. After a few seasons with lower-level claimers, Hui reached out to Maker, who has a sterling reputation for claiming horses that he develops into graded stakes-winning runners. Hui has degrees in math and physics and describes himself as a “black and white analytical guy.” He checked out Maker’s stats on the Internet and made his move in 2015.

“I called him up one day and said, ‘I’d like to claim one with you. Are you open to it? How does it work?’ He walked me through it.”

Through Maker, Hui, 56, bought a horse that won a stakes at Woodbine and claimed an allowance runner. Their relationship and success grew through the years.

“Over time, he would point them out to me and he does what he does,” Hui said. “We’ve been very blessed. We got Greengrassofwyoming. Three weeks later he wins the Stars and Stripes (G3). We claimed a horse named Taghleeb at Saratoga. He ran well at Kentucky Downs. It took a little while to figure him out and he ended up winning the McKnight.”

Taghleeb’s victory in the McKnight in 2017 was the first of Maker’s three straight wins in the Gulfstream Park fixture.

Maker and Hui also did well with their claim of Shadow Rock, which led them to Hogy, who won a pair of Grade 3s for them. While at Fair Grounds in March 2018 to run Galton in the Muniz Memorial (G2), Hui said he was asking Maker what he looks for when scouting horses to claim.

“He’s pointing all this out and Zulu walks by,” Hui said. “He said ‘That’s exactly what you are looking for.’ ”

Zulu Alpha was third to Synchrony and Arklow in the Muniz at 91-1 and Hui put him in his stable mail. Nearly six months later, Hui saw that the son of Street Cry was entered in a claiming race at Churchill Downs. He had trainer John Ortiz claim him for $80,000. The Calumet Farm homebred won for fun by 9 ½ lengths the day he was claimed promptly rewarding Hui and Ortiz with a win in the Sycamore (G3).

Pegasus statue at Gulfstream ParkHui subsequently moved Zulu Alpha to Maker to run in the grass stakes at last year’s Championship Meet at Gulfstream. After a well-beaten seventh in the Fort Lauderdale (G2), he won the McKnight and Mac Diarmida (G2) in what turned into a very good 2019 campaign.

Two races before Zulu Alpha was claimed blinkers were removed, an equipment change that looks to have had a positive impact. And right after Hui made the claim, the long-striding gelding was stretched out to longer distances. His past performances show he has thrived.

Hui and Maker thought enough of Zulu Alpha last year to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), where he was fourth, 1¾ lengths behind the winner, Bricks and Mortar, who surely will be named the champion male turf horse and is likely to be the Horse of the Year. Hui is quick to credit Maker and his keen eye for talent.

“I’m biased, but I can’t see anyone any better spotting horses for two-turn or three-turn turf races, and getting the most bang for the buck,” Hui said. “I made the comment when we were in the Breeders’ Cup that you don’t usually see guys like me in this race. It’s typically dominated by Europeans or these larger farms.”

Hui was a co-founder of Transportation Insight, a company based in Hickory, N.C. that he and his partners sold five years ago, about the time he started working with Maker. He has a boutique-type racing and breeding operation that currently consists of six runners, three broodmares and three babies. He bred and sold the Grade 1-winning filly Nickname.

Zulu Alpha is Hui’s top earner, took him to the Breeders’ Cup and has delivered half of his eight graded stakes victories. The Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, where he is taking a shot, is the starting point for what he hopes is another solid season.

“Zulu has exceeded expectations,” Hui said. “I feel so fortunate to have a horse like this and one thing that I have picked up about this game is that it is race to race. He’s got to be competitive in this race. He’s got to come out of the race, come back and train again. Everything is on the table.”

Hall of Famer to Saddle Omaha Beach for Pegasus World Cup (G1)

Trainer Richard Mandella built his Hall of Fame career on consummate horsemanship, a no-frills, all-class approach to training Thoroughbreds that has produced enduring success spanning more than four decades.

“It’s always amazed me,” and Mandella, who saddled his first horse in 1974 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. “Since I first started out and had my first couple of good horses – Bad ‘n Big being the first real good one – as soon as one started to wear out, another good one would pop up. It’s kind of still going on.”

More than 40 years after getting his first taste of graded-stakes success with Bad ‘n Big, Mandella will saddle Omaha Beach for Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Runhappy at Gulfstream Park – still very much a prominent player on Thoroughbred racing’s center stage.

Omaha Beach, the latest in a long, long list of stars to pop up in Mandella’s stable, will be the likely post-time favorite for the 1 1/8-mile medication-free Pegasus World Cup.

Remarkably, Mandella, who has saddled the winners of more than 2,150 races and $142 million in purses, has been blessed with a seemingly endless stream of Grade 1 stars without training huge numbers of horses.

“We don’t have a real big outfit. I used to be bigger – I used to keep Hollywood Park and Santa Anita with about 60 to 75 horses. That was my top,” Mandella said. “I tried to get a little bigger than that, but I couldn’t handle it. When I turned 60, which was nine years ago, I took myself down to just one barn with 40 horses and we’re still there.”

‘I Used to Think I was Stupid’

The bigger his stable grew, the more uncomfortable Mandella felt, a development he attributes to a less-than-stellar academic background.

“I barely made it through high school, seriously. I had a job before school and after school. I was riding horses before I went to school, exercising, breaking yearlings. I worked my tail off,” Mandella said. “I used to think I was stupid. Being a little more realistic looking back, I was working at 4:30 in the morning. I started school at 10:30 because I had a job at a farm breaking yearlings. At night, my father and I would meet and we’d train. We had a little track at home and we’d train until 9 o’clock at night. I rested in school and that’s about all I got out of it.”

Mandella stressed the importance of getting an education to fall back on.

“What a young person needs to realize is that if he ever has success, he’d better have a little education to work with the success, and I lacked that,” he said. “I could feel it as I got too big.

“I haven’t figured it out yet how Todd Pletcher and those guys do it and how good they do. I can appreciate what they can do and be consistently successful. I could never feel comfortable once I got over that 65 number,” he added. “Two barns, dealing with people and horses, it was more than I could take in at one time.”

Mandella’s stable surely would have grown into triple digits had he been more comfortable with a larger operation.

“I’ve never applied for a job in my life and I’ve never asked for a horse to train. Somebody has always put things in front of me,” he said. “Either we bought good ones or, as in the case of Gentlemen, Siphon, Virginie, who won the Beverly Hills (G1), and Romarin, who won the Early Times at Churchill (G2), I was asked to train those horses by people who had seen something they liked about me and called me and said, ‘I’ve got a horse named Sandpit from Brazil.’ I got calls from people asking would I take a horse. I’ve been very fortunate that they were the right people with the right horses.”

South America Calling

Gentlemen, Siphon, Virginie, Romarin and Sandpit, among several other graded-stakes winners, were imported from South America and flourished under Mandella’s care.

“This first reason is, it was the horses that were sent to me. Below that, I would say it was because I grew up on a ranch and broke hundreds of yearlings over a six-year period. Dealing with the minds of horses – when you break horses you have to read horses’ minds to get along – that’s the thing,” Mandella said. “It’s your job to teach them how to gallop, change leads, and all that stuff. It’s an important part of training South Americans – you have to retrain them. If you make a mistake in that process, you have an outlaw, a bad actor, or they get hurt or they’re unhappy. That’s part of the transition from South America, more than Europe – to back up and rebuild and put an education with it.”

Mandella, who also trained the French-bred 1993 Horse of the Year and turf champion Kotashaan, has experienced considerable success with veteran campaigners such as Gentlemen, Sandpit and The Tin Man through the years.

“We’ve always been known to have these 7, 8, 9-year-olds,” he said. “Sandpit was 10, I think, when I went to Dubai with him. The Tin Man won the Arlington Million when he was 8. We’ve kind of had a few of those.”

Mandella attributes his success with older campaigners with the lessons he learned working with his father, Gene, at their Cherry Valley, Calif. ranch while paying much less attention to his lessons in school earlier in the day.

“The first reason is the horses I’ve had. The underlying reason would be growing up on my father’s ranch where we had horses hurt badly. We had a small little ranch. Dad was a blacksmith. We trained and took care of horses almost as a hobby more than a job. We’d get horses that were hurt. We’d try to rest them and get them back training and getting them back to the races,” Mandella said. “We could see that people didn’t know when to stop at the first warning. That was the lesson I learned from that. You learn not to push your injuries too far and ask too much of them. Stop and fix it, and maybe you get a better horse after it’s over. I think my career stands for that.”

Keeping It ‘Old School’

While keeping current, Mandella has remained ‘old school’ in his training.

“I listen about every machine, every new vitamin and leg paint. You try it, but pretty soon you throw that out and go back to what you were doing. The basics are the most important things. I learned them from my father. The finer points I learned from Lefty Nickerson, V. J. Nickerson,” he said. “I only worked for him for one year, but he and I had a relationship where he could see me a little puzzled and he’d say three words and it would all come together for me. Everybody in life should have somebody like that. Lefty was very good for me.”

His tried-and true training methods have always served Mandella and his array of stakes winners well. Pleasantly Perfect would hardly have been able to win the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and 2004 Dubai World Cup (G1) without the special attention paid to him by his trainer.

“As a 2-year-old he had a virus that affected his heart. You’ve heard of people 35, 40-years old working out in the gym who drop dead of a heart attack and they don’t know why. They find out it’s Pericarditis, an inflammation of the heart sac and fluid around the heart. He had that as a 2-year-old,” Mandella said. “I turned him out for a year and he was better but not good enough. I turned him out again and at the end of his 3-year-old year he started running. He moved – Boom! Boom! Boom! – into some big stuff. He was that good of a horse.”

Pleasantly Perfect capped a record-setting four-win day for his trainer in the 2003 Breeders’ Cup.

“I’m sitting in the box with the owner and I’m thinking, ‘This poor guy doesn’t have a chance in hell. I’ve already won three of these. What chance has he got? He’s carrying 500 pounds going into the gate,’” Mandella said with a chuckle. “And he ran the race of his life.”

Mandella also visited the Santa Anita winner’s circle after Halfbridled’s win in the Juvenile Fillies (G1), Action This Day’s triumph in the Juvenile (G1) and Johar’s dead-heat victory with High Chaparral in the Turf (G1).

Pleasantly Perfect’s triumph in the Dubai World Cup ranks among Mandella’s favorite memories.

“Winning the Dubai Cup [was special] because I had been there five times and we’d ran good. It kind of made you want to win it,” he said. “For Pleasantly Perfect, particularly, to win it was special.”

Where It All Began

Pleasantly Perfect, Gentlemen, Sandpit, Kotashaan, Siphon, Dare and Go, The Tin Man, and, of course, Beholder, among so many others, have provided much success and joy, but Mandella didn’t hesitate when asked if any horse stood out as he looks back on his career.

“The one I owe probably the most is a horse called Bad ‘n Big – a horse I trained in the ‘70s. He won the Cinema Handicap and beat Iron Constitution. He won the Big Crosby Sprint in 1:07-and-4 at Del Mar. He ran against top competition and retired at 7 or 8 from being a 2-year-old,” he said. “Each one of his big races was as good as anything since, because it was new to me and I knew that if I didn’t get going then, it was going to be a long struggle. That’s the way this business goes. You don’t hang around for 20 years and all of a sudden just get going. You either make it or you don’t. I owe him so much.”

Nearly four decades later, Beholder demonstrated the same longevity at the top, earning Eclipse championships at 2, 3, 5 and 6 before retiring with $6.1 million in earnings and 12 Grade 1 victories, including wins in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and 2012 Pacific Classic.

“She had extreme freakish ability. She was a little hard-headed. When she was young, she was a challenge. As we got going, she wanted to leave the gate and run as far as she could as fast as she could, which was good enough most of the time,” Mandella said. “When she won the [2013] Breeders’ Cup [Distaff] and beat Royal Delta that was the day I told [jockey] Gary [Stevens] to take her back – we’d been training her that way for a year – she responded. She was a better horse and could do what you wanted her to do.”

It is clearly not by accident that Beholder and Bad n’ Big’s long and fruitful careers mirrored that of their Hall of Fame trainer.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – June 15

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for Agameofskill.com visitors

BELMONT PARK

DOUBLE ORB (Race 1 @BEL, June 7).  This first time starter from the Steve Asmussen barn had no difficulty with the tough 7 furlong distance as he crushed a field of talented prospects.  Big future for the runner from the Maktoum barn.

SEPARATIONOFPOWERS (Race 5 @BEL, June 7).   Last year’s G1 Test winner is back on her game.  She spotted weight to a good field that included Breeders’ Cup runner-up Chalon, and she destroyed them in ultra impressive fashion.  A Grade 1 stakes should be on the agenda in the near future.

BIG BELLA BROWN (Race 7 @BEL, June 1).  This son of Big Brown exited a key race but faced a difficult fast pace scenario.  Despite that the Mike Maker trainee ran a very game race to finish second to the logical closer.   Excels on wet tracks.

 

GULFSTREAM PARK 

RED CARATS (Race 2 @GP, June 1).  Sammy Camacho, who is a good jockey, absolutely butchered the ride on the most likely winner in this field.  Had the maiden in all sorts of traffic issues and never had a chance to fully run his best race.  Can rebound at the cheap $10,000 maiden claiming level.

 

MONMOUTH PARK

STANDARD DEVIATION (Race 9 at MTH, June 1).  Son of Curlin looked like a new horse on the switch to the turf.  A half to one grass winner, the 3yo easily handled a field of proven turf runners.  Awad Stakes winner Empire Of War was a no-threat 2nd to the Chad Brown trainee that went off a juicy price.

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