Fires, Mandella Elected to Hall of Fame
by Blood-Horse Staff
Date Posted: 5/1/2001 11:00:11 AM
Last Updated: 5/2/2001 5:06:54 PM

Richard Mandella, elected to racing's Hall of Fame.
Earlie Fires, who led all apprentice jockeys in 1965 and is one of only 14 North American riders to win more than 6,000 races, and trainer Richard Mandella, who won his first stakes in 1974, are among the newest members of the Hall of Fame.

Fires, Mandella, and horses Holy Bull, Paseana, and Maskette will be inducted during a ceremony at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Aug. 6.

A regular in the Midwest, Fires, 54, is from a racing family, with most of his eight brothers and two sisters involved in the game. One brother, Jenks Fires, is a well-known trainer.

Over the years, the native of Riverdale, Ark., has topped the rider standings at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Gulfstream, Hialeah, Calder, Hawthorne, and old Miles Park. He set an Arlington record Aug. 16, 1983, when he won with seven of eight mounts. He also rode seven winners at Arlington on May 25, 1987, and went six-for-six at Hawthorne on July 19, 1989.

"It's really satisfying," Fires said after the announcement was made Tuesday in the Churchill Downs press box. "It's something I thought I might get somewhere along the road."

Fires was nominated last year, but the honor went to Julie Krone. "Any time you're up for something and don't get it, it's disappointing," he said. "But there are a lot of people in the press now who don't know a lot about me."

Fires' brother, Jenks, said it is "thrilling" his brother was voted into the Hall of Fame. They planned to celebrate with a little work Tuesday, but things didn't quite pan out.

"Earlier called me and told me to meet him here," said Jenks Fires, who has horses stabled at Churchill Downs. "I had him down to ride two horses, but neither one got in."

Fires was honored by his fellow jockeys in 1991, when he received the George Woolf Award, given annually to a rider who exemplifies character and professionalism.

Fires won six races on In Reality, who he considers the best horse he ever rode. He has often said the most "satisfying" win was aboard Abe's Hope, who upset Buckpasser in the 1966 Flamingo Stakes.

Mandella is the third straight California-based trainer to be elected, following Neil Drysdale in 2000 and D. Wayne Lukas in 1999. A California native who got his first lessons from his blacksmith father, Mandella is a leading trainer on the West Coast.

In 1993, Mandella won two Breeders' Cup races, the Turf (gr. I) with Kotashaan, and the Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with Phone Chatter. Both won Eclipse Awards that year, with Kotashaan named Horse of the Year.

"There are certain things in life I believe that if you want too bad, you don't get," Mandella said. "The Hall of Fame, I can't tell you how much it means to me."

Mandella said that when he was in the sixth or seventh grade, he announced his goal was to win the Kentucky Derby before the age of 30. "I've just about lapped it," he said with a laugh.

The 50-year-old trainer won his first stakes in 1974 with California stakes winner Bold Clarion. Since that time, he has saddled top stakes horses: Dare and Go, who broke Cigar's 16-race win streak in the Pacific Classic (gr. I); Siphon, Sandpit, and Gentlemen, the one-two-three finishers in the 1997 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I); Atticus, who set a world-record in the 1997 Arcadia Handicap; as well as Malek, Dixie Union, Best Pal, Phone Trick, and Afternoon Deelites.

Mandella has won training titles at Hollywood Park, Del Mar, and Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Holy Bull (Great Above -- Sharon Brown, by Al Hattab) was bequeathed by his breeder, Rachel Carpenter, to trainer Jimmy Croll. For Croll, Holy Bull was the 1994 Horse of the Year when his campaign included five grade I wins: the Travers, Met Mile, Haskell, Woodward, and Florida Derby. Overall, he won 13 of 16 career starts and earned $2,481,760.

Holy Bull was injured in his second start at four and retired to stud. He is the sire of Macho Uno, last year's champion juvenile colt. Holy Bull stands at Jonabell Farm near Lexington.

Holy Bull was elected in his first year of eligibility, as was Paseana (Ahmad -- Pasiflin, by Flintham). She was the champion older female in both 1992 and 1993 after being imported from her native Argentina by Sidney Craig.

Trained by Ron McAnally, Paseana won 19 of 36 races and earned $3,317,427. She won the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) in 1992, then was beaten a nose in the 1993 running.

Paseana foaled a Lode filly in Argentina in September of 2000 and is currently boarded at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky.

Maskette, the Horse of Yesteryear, was a top filly in the early part of the 20th century. Owned by James R. Keene and trained by James Rowe, she won 12 of 17 races and earned $77,090. She was the top juvenile filly of 1908 and 3-year-old filly the following year.

The Hall of Fame members were chosen by a group of 145 mostly writers and broadcasters.

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