DEL MAR, Calif. — Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella fired one of his big guns Sunday at Del Mar and the boom shook the grounds and might reverberate forward to the shore track’s biggest race of the season.
The veteran trainer gave Flavien Prat a leg up on his turf ace United for the $200,000 Eddie Read Stakes (G2) at nine furlongs on grass and watched him walk his beat for an impressive half-length tally.
Then he shook up a couple of turf writers afterwards when he said he’s seriously considering Del Mar’s signature race – the $500,000 TVG Pacific Classic (G1) – as a next start for his ace even though the big chestnut son of Giant’s Causeway has never run on the dirt. United has run 12 times on turf and twice on synthetics in his career.
“… this horse is training so well on the dirt, month after month, that I’m going to consider running him in the Pacific Classic,” Mandella said immediately following the victory. “I’ve been thinking all summer about it.”
That surprise set up a potential showdown between possibly the best grass horse on the grounds with possibly the best dirt horse in Maximum Security, who won his TVG Pacific Classic prep yesterday in a photo-finish thriller in the San Diego Handicap.
Mandella had previously surprised folks at Del Mar in 2015 when he unexpectedly entered his filly Beholder in the TVG Pacific Classic against the boys and she proceeded to wallop them by more than eight lengths in a stunning performance.
United ran the Read distance in 1:46.71 and, as the 7/5 favorite, paid $4.80, $3.40 and $2.60 across the board. The $120,000 share of the winner’s purse pushed his bankroll to $1,453,549 for owners Larry and Nanci Roth, and daughter, Jaime Roth, who race under the name LNJ Foxwoods.
Neptune’s Storm finished another half-length back for third. Defending champion Bowies Hero was out paced and had to settle for fourth. Originaire and Cleopatra’s Strike completed the order of finish. Combatant was scratched.
“We ran him short just to pick his head up. Sometimes you run them long too many times they get stale. We’ll think about the Del Mar Handicap on turf, too, but if he keeps training on dirt as well as he has been,” Mandella said.
Earning his first stakes victory in the Feb. 1 San Marcos (G2), he them made the unfortunate trip in March to Dubai for the canceled Sheema Classic (G1). United showed his improvement by capturing the Charles Whittingham (G2) in May, a race he had placed in the year prior. The Eddie Read win gave the 5-year-old gelding a perfect 3-for-3 this year, all graded stakes.
United was bred by Rosemont Farm in Kentucky and first sold for $240,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. The chestnut was purchased by his current connections for $300,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga.
“The race came up perfect,” Jockey Prat recounted. “He broke real well and we got a great spot. We went along fine and when I asked him, he just went on with it. When you ride a really good horse like this, it makes things easier. Good horses do good things; they put you in good spots. It’s all easier with his kind.”
The victory in the Eddie Read was the third stakes win of the session so far for rider Prat and his third in the race itself. He now has 47 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The Eddie Read win was the first stakes score of the meet for trainer Mandella, but his third in the Read. He now has 65 stakes wins at Del Mar, sixth most among all trainers. The trainer has four wins in the Pacific Classic already.
2020 Eddie Read Replay
Edited Press Release
Photo: United. Credit: Benoit Photo