Trainer Richard Mandella notes that he wins the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) once a decade, so this could be the year he does it again with the Argentine-bred Indy Point.
Indy Point, who has been ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens in all three of his United States starts, was one of 13 pre-entered for the $3 million Turf Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
The 2013 World Championships marks the 10-year anniversary of the Hall of Fame conditioner's unprecedented four-win day, which included his dead-heat finish with Johar matching High Chaparral for the 2003 BC Turf win. Mandella also won the Turf in 1993 with Kotashaan. Both victories came at Santa Anita.
He is back home again with the well-regarded Indy Point, who burnt the Santa Anita sod in 1:57.47 for 10 furlongs while winning the John Henry Turf Championship (gr. IIT) Sept. 29 by 1 1/2 lengths. Mandella was asked about the 4-year-old colt during a national teleconference held following the release of the pre-entries Oct. 23.
"Indy Point had a one mile work, very nice," Mandella said in reference to a one-mile blowout in 1:36 3/5 Oct. 21 over the turf. "He's a very professional horse. He won here going a mile and a quarter. We're going a mile and a half (in the Breeder's Cup Turf), so I needed to put a little wind into him. He got around there pretty nice."
A three-time grade I winner in his native country, Indy Point was transferred to Mandella's care by owner/breeder Felipe Lovisi of Argentina after the son of Indygo Shiner finished a fast-closing second in the nation's most prestigious race, the Carlos Pellegrini (Arg-I).
Indy Point made his U.S. debut at Del Mar with a smart victory in the restricted one-mile Wickerr Stakes July 24. The race, his first since the Carlos Pellegrini Dec. 15, was a tuneup for the Arlington Million (gr. IT), where Indy Point was sent off as the slight favorite in a field of 13.
But Indy Point grabbed both front feet when he clipped heels in the early going of the Million, according to Mandella. While he never got into the race, finishing last, he avoided a serious injury and returned six weeks later in the John Henry.
"Indy Point is doing very well. Other than that one day at Arlington, he's made great progress," Mandella said. "His race in the John Henry was pretty phenomenal—1:57 and 2/5. I know the turf is fast, but I don't think he could have gone faster if they were running downhill, which come to think of it, he was part way. I mean he couldn't run any better."
The BC Turf, of course, has been dominated in most recent years by Europeans. But the overseas contingent, led by the filly The Fugue, Magician , and Grandeur, does not appear to be as strong this season. Indy Point also will have to deal with defending U.S.-based winnner Little Mike as well as the comebacker Point of Entry and Ken and Sarah Ramsey's grade I-winning homebreds Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution .
The home field advantage could be an asset, Mandella acknowledged, though he'd rather not put too fine a point on it.
"It's always nice to be at home, but it's always better to have the best horse," he remarked.