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HOLLYWOOD PARK : Afternoon Deelites Bacharach, Mandella

November 14, 1994|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Owner Burt Bacharach and trainer Richard Mandella are trying not to get too excited too early about Afternoon Deelites. But by their actions, their cover has been blown. Bacharach performed a concert Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio, then rushed back to Los Angeles, not wanting to miss his 2-year-old colt's second race. And after that race, Mandella was standing in the winner's circle, wearing a broad smile.

After running six furlongs in a sprightly 1:08 4/5 at Santa Anita on Oct. 23, Afternoon Deelites came back Sunday in the $95,250 Hollywood Prevue Breeders' Cup and won by three lengths with virtually no encouragement from jockey Kent Desormeaux. His seven-furlong time of 1:20 4/5 broke the stakes record by a fifth of a second and came within two-fifths of the track record, which was set by the 7-year-old Memo, another Mandella trainee, in the Triple Bend Handicap in July.

With two scratches, there were only three horses for Afternoon Deelites to beat, and he left them with an electrifying burst of speed at the top of the stretch. Valid Wager, the 13-10 favorite who had been second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, finished second, four lengths ahead of Hunt for Missouri. Southern Tempo, the leader after a half-mile, was last, beaten by 18 lengths.

"That horse that won accelerated like no other 2-year-old I've seen this year," said Chris McCarron, who rode Hunt for Missouri. "He accelerated like maybe Mandella was running a 4-year-old against us. Maybe they ought to check this one's lip tattoo."

Like Soul of the Matter, Afternoon Deelites is a West Virginia-bred and a son of Private Terms. Bacharach said that Afternoon Deelites' dam, Intimate Girl, was injured and retired after running only one race.

Soul of the Matter, this year's Super Derby winner, was fifth in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. "This colt's a lot like Soul of the Matter," Mandella said. "He's athletic, and light on his feet. I'm not surprised he won, but I am surprised at that time, because the colts he ran against have shown that they have some class."

Desormeaux knew that only one tap with the whip was going to be enough. "I was shocked at the turn of foot that he showed," the jockey said. "I'm in as much awe as everyone in the grandstand. He set the track on fire, for sure. When I cut him loose, I knew it was going to be very tough for anybody to be around him the way he accelerated. Then I just geared him down. We'll save him for the next time. It was breath-taking to be on his back. I've ridden a lot of horses, and this one took my breath away."

The only frame of reference Mandella can make among his previous 2-year-olds is Phone Chatter, last year's champion juvenile filly. "Since the day we got this horse, we knew he could run," Mandella said. "He just looked like a runner, and he's going right up the ladder."

Riding Valid Wager, Martin Pedroza thought his horse still had a chance at the head of the stretch.

"I'm telling you, my horse was running," Pedroza said, "and that other one made me feel like I was sitting still. When the winner went by me, I couldn't believe it. I'm not depressed after losing to a horse like that."

Afternoon Deelites, paying $5 as the second choice, is headed for the $500,000 Hollywood Futurity, at 1 1/16 miles, on Dec. 18. With a slight license taken for the spelling, the name is derived from a hit pop song from a number of years ago.

"But not one that I wrote," Bacharach said. "That's something, isn't it? To come up with a horse like this, and he's named after somebody else's song."

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