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Gentlemen Gets Inside Track

Horse racing: Mandella's top betting choice draws post position in field of 11 for Santa Anita Handicap.

March 01, 1997|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Whether anyone is ahead of Gentlemen at the conclusion of the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap Sunday afternoon remains to be seen.

What is known is that everyone will be outside him at the start of the 60th Big 'Cap.

Looking for his sixth consecutive win, Gentlemen, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, drew the rail in the field of 11. Stablemate Siphon, the 7-2 second choice, landed post No. 10; Sandpit, the third entrant from trainer Richard Mandella's barn and the 5-1 third choice, is in post No. 5.

Gary Stevens, Gentlemen's rider in his last three wins, has won the race three times in the last seven years, most recently with Urgent Request in 1995.

"I'll talk [strategy] over with Richard," he said. "I'll let [Gentlemen] dictate to me how he wants to be ridden. I'll go out there with an open mind and go from there. I do know the horse is doing well."

Siphon and Sandpit worked an easy three furlongs Friday morning at Santa Anita. The main track is a surface Sandpit has always trained well on, but the 8-year-old hasn't raced on dirt in nearly four years.

"I've always had high hopes for him [on dirt]," jockey Corey Nakatani said. "I'm very confident in him. I think he'll handle it fine, and I think he's got a definite shot [to win]."

Formal Gold, winner of the Donn Handicap, and Marlin, who has one victory in four main track races, are 6-1. Every other horse in the field is at least 20-1.

There were no surprise entrants Friday morning, so the rest of the field consists of Editor's Note and Kingdom Found (20-1) and Zanferrier, Just Java, Chequer and The Barking Shark (30-1).

In the day's second most important race, Hello, a last-minute substitute for injured stablemate Mud Route, is the 2-1 choice against 11 other 3-year-olds in the $200,000 San Rafael Stakes at one mile.

Perfect in two American starts on dirt and turf, Hello, like the Big 'Cap favorite, drew the rail. Wild Rush, unbeaten in two races in Louisiana, is next on the morning line at 7-2 as he makes his California debut. Next is Bagshot, second to Hello in the Santa Catalina Stakes early last month, at 4-1. Every other horse in the large field is more than 10-1.

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