Spendthrift Australia’s new shuttle stallion Omaha Beach (USA) (War Front), a triple G1 winner, is the latest in a long list of stars to pop up in trainer Richard Mandella’s stable.
Never finishing out of the top three in his entire career, stakes success came to Omaha Beach in quick succession. He won the G2 Rebel Stakes before claiming the G1 Arkansas Derby on his next start.
“He’s learned to fight it out,” commented Mandella after his Derby success. That toughness saw him return after a spell to add the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes first up. He then finished runner up in the G1 Breeder’s Cup before ending his career on a high note with a third G1 victory in the Malibu Stakes. In doing so, he became the first horse in 30 years to win a G1 at 1200m and 1800m in the same year.
Upon his retirement to stud, Mandella praised the triple G1 winner, “I think Omaha Beach is as good as they come – they just don’t get any better.”
So, who is the famous Southern California native behind our talented and versatile superstar?
Saddling his first horse in 1974, and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, Mandella has been blessed with an endless stream of G1 winners without training huge numbers of horses.
Growing up, Mandella worked for his father, Gene, and broke and galloped horses at Connie Ring’s neighbouring Three Rings Ranch while in high school. Admittedly, he was riding horses from 4.30am before he went to school and then at night would meet his father and train until 9pm on a little track they had at home, so the only time to rest was during school.
Mandella’s career statistics to date have seen him saddle 2,167 winners for earnings of $142,901,649, including Spendthrift Farm’s iconic mare Beholder who was a multiple Eclipse Award and Breeders’ Cup winner and became the first horse since 1976, male or female, to win G1 stakes races at age 2, 3, 4, and 5.
“In 2003 he [Mandella] won four Breeders Cup races in one day, a record,” wrote Jamie Squire in Sports Illustrated. “He trained the filly, Beholder, to Breeders Cup titles in three different years and she is regarded as one of the best racehorses in recent history – Mandella is a titan.”
He previously kept his Hollywood Park and Santa Anita stables with about 60 to 75 horses but when he turned 60, he reduced his numbers to one barn of 40 horses where that figured has since remained.
Mandella is widely respected for maintaining consistency in his training methods, not thrown by gimmicks or new-fad training techniques – and that has paid off. Mandella’s training stable has earned at least $1m every year in prizemoney since 1981.
“You try it [new trends], but pretty soon you throw that out and go back to what you were doing. The basics are the most important things. I learned them from my father,” Mandella said.
Photo: Richard Mandella with Omaha Beach. Credit: Spendthrift Australia