Perhaps influenced by his patient father, Richard, Gary Mandella is not caught up in Derby fever with a promising 3-year-old colt named Man Among Men, who went from turf to dirt in upsetting 2-5 favorite Empire Maker in Santa Anita's Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 7.Immediately after that one-length victory, Gary Mandella said he would consider one of three races for the Kentucky-bred chestnut's next start: the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields on Mar. 8; the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on Mar. 9 at Fair Grounds; or Santa Anita's San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) on Mar. 16.But Mandella has drawn a line through the first two races for the son of Gentlemen, the multiple stakes winner who was trained by his father."I've ruled out running him the weekend of the eighth and the ninth (of March)," said Mandella, who turns 31 on Feb. 14. "I'm definitely not going to run him back that quick and I'm definitely not going to ship him out of town," he said. "If he runs before the Santa Anita Derby (on Apr. 5), it will be in the San Felipe. And I may not even do that, because I'm not going to train him through bad, wet tracks, to make a race that only leaves me 20 (days) for the race I really want to win anyway. It doesn't make any sense."So if the weather doesn't allow me to make the San Felipe, I'll just train him up to the Santa Anita Derby," Mandella added. "I'd like to take a real good shot at that, because if he doesn't run good there, then he can't go on to anything else. If I train him through a bunch of crappy racetracks to make sure I get my three Derby preps in, it doesn't make sense. "This horse proved the other day he can run very, very well off a 60-day layoff (since the Generous Stakes on Nov. 30), so if the weather doesn't allow me to do it the way I want to do it, I'll just train him up to the Santa Anita Derby and then I've still got four weeks to the Kentucky Derby (on May 3).
"That's the other thing I've made up my mind about: he won't run in any of those three-week-to-Louisville preps. I want to give him as much time between as I can. He runs his best races that way."