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DEL MAR : Region Seems to Have Solved Major Problem

September 13, 1993|DAVE DISTEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DEL MAR — Thoroughbred race horses, as fragile as they are, come up with enough ailments to make a hypochondriac feel like Superman.

Trainer Richard Mandella had a horse with a different sort of problem.

The horse's name was Region, and he had a psychological problem.

"He just wouldn't pass other horses," Mandella said Sunday. "He'd move up and then he'd just hang. He didn't want to be a leader. He wanted to be a follower."

Region was the leader in the $200,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap Sunday. He was not the leader for long, but he was the leader at the right time. He got up in the last step to nip Lottery Winner by a head to win the Grade II race for 3-year-olds and up over one mile.

Region paid $19,20, $11.20 and $6.40. Lottery Winner paid $10.00 and $6.20 and third place L'Express paid $8.40.

Through the early stages, favorite Three Peat and Argentine-import Portoferraio contested for the lead with the field strung out in single file onto the backstretch. Siberian Summer made a move on the far turn. So did Region.

This horse was just going to have to pass horses, but the field was bunched on the inside.

"I didn't want to have to go as wide as I had to," said jockey Corey Nakatani, "but I had no choice. The horses in front weren't stopping and there weren't any openings."

So he took his horse seemingly halfway to La Jolla around that far turn . . . and that bashful (or courteous) Region went past them all.

How to cure this malady?

"I took him to my ranch near Bradbury," Mandella said, "and gave him a couple of weeks to let down and relax. We took him back to my second barn at Santa Anita, away from the races. Then we made him run by horses during workouts. I mean, made him run past horses."

Nakatani has ridden Region during some of his workouts.

"We had one work that probably didn't even show as a work because he went so slow," Nakatani said. "He's just never been an easy horse to ride."

Horse Racing Notes

The seven-horse field for Wednesday's season-ending Del Mar Futurity includes, in order of post position, Creston (Corey Black), Al Renee (Russell Baze), Ramblin Guy (Eddie Delahoussaye), Mr. Wonder Boy (John Atherton), Flying Sensation (Ron Warren), Winning Pact (Corey Nakatani) and Ferrara (Kent Desormeaux). . . . Laffit Pincay was suspended for five racing days beginning Sept. 16. He was penalized for failure to make proper effort to keep Fiesta Fair from causing interference at the start of Saturday's ninth race.

Bill Shoemaker actually won 8,834 races in his career, but there's a catch to the 8,834th victory. Doug Atkins, owner of the Eclipse Stable, told of a time when Sunland Park in New Mexico would bring in "name" jockeys for an annual promotion. Shoemaker won one of those races, but it was aboard a quarterhorse. His career record still stands at 8,833.

Megan's Interco, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, led from start to finish to upset 8-5 favorite Journalism in the $55,000 Golden Eagle. Journalism finished second. . . . My Sweet Barbara won the $25,000 Seaside Starter Handicap with a wire-to-wire effort under Gary Stevens. The 6-5 favorite, Lyphard's Song, finished fourth.

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