A month ago, trainer Richard Mandella didn’t believe he’d have any starters in this year’s two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships extravaganza.
Now, however, the Hall of Fame conditioner plans to send out a pair of starters Saturday in a bid to add to his significant amount of Breeders’ Cup glory achieved at Santa Anita Park.
In 1993, Mandella won a pair of Breeders’ Cup contests, training Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) champ Phone Chatter and Turf (gr. IT) victor Kotashaan. That didn’t compare, however, to his phenomenal achievement a decade later.
When the Breeders’ Cup returned to Santa Anita in 2003, Mandella had the greatest day of any trainer in the 25-year history of the event, as his charges Action This Day (Juvenile), Halfbridled (Juvenile Fillies), Johar (Turf, in a deat heat), and Pleasantly Perfect (Classic) all proved victorious.
Mine That Bird, said Mandella, “is like a gift that was left on my doorstep.” Owner Mark Allen recently purchased the son of Birdstone and transferred him to Mandella from Canadian-based trainer David Cotey, who guided the juvenile gelding to four victories in five starts, including a win three weeks ago in the Grey Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine. All five of his races have come over the Woodbine Polytrack. His consistency leads Mandella to believe he deserves a chance in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
One Union is another consistent sort who enjoys sprinting on the Turf, and has been third a trio of times in six-furlongs dashes on the grass at Hollywood Park. Last out in the Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita, One Union again finished third over the same layout he will traverse in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Saturday. It was his first effort down Santa Anita’s downhill turf course, and Mandella termed his effort “very competitive. He ran well, and I’m taking an outside chance here. You can’t win if you ain’t in.”
One Union is owned by longtime Mandella client Herman Sarkowsky, who is also owned Phone Chatter, so lightning could strike twice.