In the first 11 days of Santa Anita's winter-spring meet, Richard Mandella already has two stakes victories with horses he has been training only a short time.
Nearly two weeks after he had won the Malibu Stakes with Rock Hard Ten, the hall of fame trainer won with another stable newcomer on Saturday when Congrats rolled to a 5 1/2 -length victory in the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap over a sloppy track on another dismal day in Arcadia.
Sixth of eight in his first for the barn in last month's Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park, the 5-year-old A.P Indy horse, who had been trained previously by Shug McGaughey, another hall of famer, relished the off going Saturday.
Never far off the lead under jockey Tyler Baze, Congrats, the 3-1 second choice in the San Pasqual field of five, took over from pacesetter Excessivepleasure around the far turn and wasn't menaced through the stretch. Total Impact, the 11-10 favorite, was second and Sigfreto rallied to be third. Excessivepleasure and Formal Attire completed the order of finish after Lundy's Liability and Habaneros were scratched.
The victory was the seventh in 16 starts for Congrats, who is owned by breeders Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, but his first in a graded stakes.
"He trained great for the Native Diver, but he sure didn't run his race that day," Mandella said. "We changed a few things this time and he sure came through. I put a little more enthusiasm in him this time, that's all."
In a race reduced to five starters because of the weather and downgraded to a Grade III, Fencelineneighbor, the 7-5 favorite who was supplemented for $3,000 five days earlier, led throughout to win the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita.
It was the second victory in a row for the 5-year-old Wild Rush mare, who is trained by Mike Machowsky for owner John Amerman. Luis Jauregui was aboard for the two-length win and it was the first graded stakes victory for the jockey, who has been riding for some 16 years.
"This is my biggest win," Jauregui said. "To be honest, I didn't have a plan with her. I just broke and stayed as quiet as I could with her.
"I knew I had a lot of horse left once we settled on the backside. I just wanted to wait as long as I could and when I asked her she kicked on."
Badge Of Silver, the 2-1 favorite, earned his first graded stakes win since the 2003 Risen Star with a neck decision over Dynever in the $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, the 5-year-old Silver Deputy horse completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.57 for his fifth victory in nine starts. He was ridden by Jerry Bailey. Commentator, the 5-2 second choice who had won his first five starts, finished seventh after setting the pace for six furlongs.
Earlier on the card, Saratoga County ($9.80) rallied to win the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap and High Fly, a 3-year-old son of Atticus, remained unbeaten in three starts with a nine-length victory over 33-1 longshot Drum Major and 10 others in the $125,000 Aventura.
Trained by William White, High Fly, the 3-1 second choice, ran the mile in 1:35.88 under jockey Eddie Castro. Jose Santos, the rider of the runner-up, claimed foul against the winners alleging interference shortly after the start, but the stewards let the order of finish stand.
Aqueduct canceled the final six races on its card Saturday because of bad weather and poor track conditions.