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FAIRPLEX

Late Choice a Winner for Mandella

September 30, 1996|GEORGE DOHRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Martin Pedroza turned out to be a good second choice for Gary Mandella aboard Region in Sunday's Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational at Fairplex.

Mandella had signed Laffit Pincay Jr., winner of three races aboard Region, to ride in the $150,000 event, but Pincay couldn't make connecting flights back from Japan. That left the horse for Pedroza, and he drove him past favorite Misnomer on the final stretch for the victory in 1:50.78.

Actually, Pedroza was more like a fourth option. Mandella had hoped either Sahara King, ridden by Corey Black, or Misnomer, with David Flores aboard, would scratch.

"[Mandella] told me that Pincay had committed and that if he couldn't get back from Japan that he wanted Corey or David," said Richie Silverstein, Pedroza's agent. "But we gambled and stayed available and then we ended up getting him, and the rest as they say, is history."

There was a question whether 1 1/8 miles was a long trip for Misnomer, trained by Ron McAnally, but the favorite looked strong taking the lead near the halfway point from Costly Frozen and led going into the home stretch.

It was then that Region, six lengths off the lead at the halfway point, sprinted from the outside to win by a half-length.

"He wanted to go so bad on the backstretch, I had to whip him left-handed to keep him straight," Pedroza said. "But once we turned for home, he was all business. He was running straight."

It was the second victory in only eight days for Region at Fairplex, who won Sept. 23 with Black riding, and the 12th victory in 30 starts. It was also a nice victory for a horse sold for only $25,000 last March.

"I'm glad no one claimed him," said Mandella, who saddled Region because his father, Richard, was at Bay Meadows for the Hillsborough Handicap. "We didn't know with this horse whether he was going to get better or get worse.

"But he loves it here. It is something we found out when we got him here and trained him, and it was a big factor in the decision to run him right back here in a week in stakes."

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