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HORSE RACING

Mandella's Day Pleasant, Nearly Perfect

October 05, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

A year ago, Pleasantly Perfect seemed to be peaking for his biggest challenge, but a bleeders' rule in Illinois kept him from running in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Arlington Park.

"I almost had him on the plane before I found out," said Richard Mandella, the Santa Anita-based trainer. "I'm not opposed to the rule. What I'm opposed to is that all the states don't have just one rule."

Before he was excluded, Pleasantly Perfect's apparent springboard into last year's Classic was a 3 1/4-length win in the Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita. Mandella's 5-year-old, a son of 1981 Kentucky Derby winner Pleasant Colony, won the Goodwood again Saturday, this time by half a length, and he's expected to finally make the Breeders' Cup's $4-million race when it's run at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

The only other repeat winner of the Goodwood had been Lord At War, who won in 1984-85. Mandella credited his jockey, Alex Solis, for Saturday's win over Fleetstreet Dancer, who also might run in the Classic. Star Cross finished third and Toccet, making his first California start since winning the Hollywood Futurity in December, probably ran himself out of the Breeders' Cup by finishing last in the $482,000 race. Toccet ran close to the pace for three-quarters of a mile.

Running for the first time in seven months, since he finished third in the Santa Anita Handicap, favored Pleasantly Perfect completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 1/5 and paid $4.80.

The pace was snail-like, Taste Of Paradise running the opening half-mile in :48 2/5. That can frequently be deadly for a horse like Pleasantly Perfect, who prefers to make his run from far back, but Solis made a snap adjustment.

"I wouldn't have bet in a million years that they would walk like that," Mandella said, "but Alex sensed that as they went down the backside and moved him right into contention. It made the difference."

Solis, who also rode Pleasantly Perfect in last year's Goodwood, won the 3,990th race of his career.

"At the half-mile pole, we had to make a little early move because they were walking and he was all game," Solis said.

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Winning her fourth straight Grade I race, trainer Bobby Frankel's Sightseek not only won the $750,000 Beldame at Belmont Park, but might have also gained the favorite's role, over Azeri, for the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Sightseek, paying $2.60 under Jerry Bailey, beat Bird Town by 4 1/2 lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 1/5. She gave Frankel his 23rd Grade I of the year, breaking the record set by Wayne Lukas in 1987.

Bird Town's half-brother, Birdstone, won the $500,000 Champagne at Belmont, but won't run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Second, 2 1/2 lengths back, was Chapel Royal, the 3-5 favorite.

Nick Zito, who trains Birdstone and Bird Town, is likely to try the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with Eurosilver, an 11-1 shot who outfinished the 12-1 Tiger Hunt in the $400,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. Also at Keeneland, the Canadian shipper Perfect Soul finished three-quarters of length ahead of Honor In War in the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile. Touch Of The Blues was third and favored Trademark ran sixth. Perfect Soul is headed for the Breeders' Cup Mile. Keeneland's $138,200 Sycamore Stakes went to Sharbayan, ridden by Pat Day for trainer Wally Dollase.

In another race at Belmont, trainer Allen Jerkens, less than 24 hours after Bowman's Band's win in the Meadowlands Cup, saddled 8-1 shot Society Selection for a one-length win over Victory U.S.A. in the $500,000 Frizette. Ashado finished third and her stablemate, Marylebone, was last. Freefourinternet, paying $43.20, won the $350,000 Kelso Handicap.

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Trainer Doug O'Neill, who ran second in the Goodwood with Fleetstreet Dancer, won the $411,800 Indiana Derby with Excessivepleasure at Hoosier Downs. Excessivepleasure, who paid $22.20, was ridden by Jon Court as the California-bred gelding led all the way and finished one length ahead of favored Grand Hombre. Wando, the Canadian Triple Crown champion, finished third.

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Julie Krone, who won five races on the Santa Anita card, rode Devious Boy to a narrow win over Sweet Return and Urban King in the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby. Trainer Kathy Walsh said that Devious Boy, who isn't eligible for the Breeders' Cup, will get a rest.... Beau's Town, last in Friday's Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland, came out of the race with an ankle injury and will undergo surgery this week.... Dollase said he has a commitment from Day to ride Ten Most Wanted in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Day also rides Perfect Drift, who is a possibility for the race.

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