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Horse Racing

Gold Cup Runneth Over With Mandella Entries

June 29, 1997|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Trainer Richard Mandella's 1-2-3 finish with Siphon, Sandpit and Gentlemen in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 2 was unprecedented.

But a similar feat in the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup today at Hollywood Park would not be a first in this track's most famous race.

In 1973, Charlie Whittingham, who has won a record eight Gold Cups, swept the first three places with Kennedy Road, Quack and Cougar II. That was the first of nine times the Hall of Fame trainer ran three horses in the race.

Mandella not only has an opportunity to match Whittingham's 24-year-old achievement today, he could go Whittingham two better.

Five of the six horses entered in the 58th Gold Cup are trained by Mandella, equaling the number of horses he has run in the race in the last 14 years. Michael Tabor's Marlin, trained by Wayne Lukas, will be the only other participant.

For the last couple of weeks, it was certain that defending champion Siphon, Gentlemen, Sandpit and Talloires were going to run in the 1 1/4-mile event, but Region was a late addition.

With eastern-based Skip Away and Will's Way not being shipped to Hollywood Park, and with Californian Handicap winner River Keen sidelined because of illness, Region appears to be in the Gold Cup for one reason.

For Siphon to remain eligible for the MGM Grand's Classic Crown bonus of $3 million, which goes to a horse who wins the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic on Aug. 9 at Del Mar, all three of the races must have a minimum of six starters.

Although he has won 12 of 34 starts and earned $755,355, Region is 15-1 on the morning line, justifiably the longest shot in the field. He has failed to win in four 1997 starts and was fourth of six in a weak running of the Californian on June 1. His presence does, however, provide a rare stakes opportunity for jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.

The world's second-winningest rider, who has seven victories in the Gold Cup, seldom gets a mount in the big-money events these days. This will be his first mount in this race since he finished 10th with Potrillon four years ago.

Mandella isn't keeping anybody at home today. He and his assistants will have their hands full in the saddling paddock before the Gold Cup with the record number of starters.

Siphon, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred, is trying to become only the second horse to repeat in the Gold Cup. Native Diver won the race three consecutive times (1965-67).

Under jockey David Flores, Siphon led every step of the way last year, defeating favored Geri by a length at odds of 9-1. He is the 6-5 morning-line favorite today.

Horse Racing Notes

Post time for the Gold Cup is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. and the race will be televised by ESPN. Coverage begins at 3. . . . Northern Afleet and Windsharp are the favorites in the other two stakes on today's card: the $250,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap at seven furlongs and the $300,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on the turf. . . . Hidden Lake was a two-length winner over Twice The Vice in the $250,000 Hempstead Handicap Saturday at Belmont Park. . . . Percutant, the 7-5 favorite, won the $71,800 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park. It was the second victory in as many U.S. starts for the 6-year-old son of Perrault, who ran the 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:26.

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