ARCADIA, Calif. —Idle roughly five months since running a disappointing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Richard Mandella’s classy turf star United came back running on Saturday at Santa Anita, as he stalked the early pace and motored to an emphatic three quarter length win in the Grade III, $100,000 San Luis Rey Stakes. Ridden by Flavien Prat, who notched his fourth win of the day, United, a 6-year-old gelding by Giant’s Causeway, got a mile and one half on turf in 2:25.51.
With speedy Acclimate going to the front as expected in the run down the hillside turf, Prat was attentive to the pace and tracked the leader while applying mild pressure to the far turn, where he took over a quarter mile out and outran second choice Masteroffoxhounds from the top of the lane prior to holding off a late run from Say the Word.
“Hat’s off to Mr. Mandella, he had him ready to run a mile and one half today,” said Prat, who has now guided him to five graded stakes wins. “He was traveling well the whole way and he responded well when I asked him to go. My horse likes to be in the race and he likes it when there is a good pace. I wanted to stay close to Acclimate, I didn’t want him to get too easy of a lead.
“Like I say, we were traveling well and at the three eighths pole, I was in control. He likes the turf courses out here and with the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, that’s good. Hoping to have a good year.”
Heavily favored at 4-5 in a field of five older horses, United paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.10.
“It’s always nice to be home,” said Mandella. “He’s won very nicely at Del Mar also, although we like The Great Race Place.”
Owned by LNJ Foxwoods, United, who is out of Indy Punch, by Pulling Punches, now has five wins from 10 starts over the Santa Anita turf and his overall mark stands at 18-8-4-1. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he now has earnings of 1,513,549.
Patiently handled by Mike Smith, Say the Word made a nice late run, easily besting Masteroffoxhounds by one length. Off at 4-1, Say the Word paid $3.60 and $2.80.
A winner of the Grade II San Marcos Stakes at a mile and one quarter on turf Feb. 6, Masteroffoxhounds sat third to the top of the lane and was unable to hold off Say the Word for the place. Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, he was off at 2-1 and paid $2.20 to show while finishing five lengths clear of Acclimate.
Fractions on the race were 24.29, 47.18, 1:11.36, 1:36.01 and 2:00.80.
San Luis Rey Replay
Note: Prat went on to win the eighth race aboard Peter Miller’s Fratelli, giving him five on the day with one race remaining.
Photo: United (Benoit)