Richard Mandella and his entourage will head to Florida shortly in advance of the Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park next Saturday. The Hall of Fame trainer is expected to be one of the recipients when it is announced that Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder is best of her division for 2012.

It won’t be the first Breeders’ Cup dance for Mandella. The California native, who turned 62 last Nov. 5, trained five national champions. In addition to 1993 Horse of the Year Kotashaan, he conditioned three others, all 2-year-olds, fillies Phone Chatter and Halfbridled in 1993 and 2003, and male winner Action This Day, also in 2003.

Mandella wasn’t about to compare apples and oranges when asked about similarities between Halfbridled, who also won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and Beholder, who is scheduled to make her 3-year-old debut in the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes a week from Monday, Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two days after the Eclipse Awards ceremonies.

“You never know how good a horse is going to be when you first get one, but Beholder gave us an indication of her talent early on, and once she started training, it was pretty evident,” Mandella said.

“Physically, they don’t look alike, but on the race track, they’re both pretty good.”

Beholder, a bay daughter of Henny Hughes owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm and bred by Clarkland Farm in Kentucky, has three wins from five starts. She has earned $1,215,000. This would be Mandella’s first win in the Santa Ynez, for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.


Bettors don’t necessarily need figures, ratings or astrological mumbo-jumbo to show a profit wagering on the races in Southern California. A win bet on Edwin Maldonado will do.

The 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico, an overnight sensation since becoming a regular on the circuit less than two years ago, shows a flat-bet profit of $2.48 at all tracks combined in 2012 according to miscellaneous statistics provided by Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free.

Maldonado’s best meet in that regard was at the recent Betfair Hollywood Park session, where he dethroned perennial riding leader Rafael Bejarano, 25-24, and showed a return on investment of $3.51 on each $2 win bet. His 25 wins came from 229 mounts.

Maldonado’s only minus ROI came at the 2012 Santa Anita autumn meet, where he just missed breaking even, finishing at $1.95, winning 11 races from 119 mounts.

Otherwise, it’s been all gravy for backers of Maldonado, who is named to ride in eight of nine races today at Santa Anita, thanks in part to his agent, Vic Lipton.

Maldonado’s other profitable meets: 2012 Fairplex Park, where he unseated long-time kingpin Martin Pedroza, $2.51; 2012 Del Mar, $2.63; Hollywood spring/summer, $2.77; and Santa Anita winter/spring, $2.32.

Maldonado enhanced his ROI Friday by winning four races at Santa Anita, both ends of the early double worth $14.20 and the sixth race on The Whole Deal ($24) for owner Paul Ladin and trainer Steve Knapp and the eighth aboard first-time starter Warren’s Gussie ($18) for owner Ben Warren and trainer Jorge Gutierrez.


Although not in the league with the legendary Lava Man when it comes to bargain claims, Unusual Jazz has been a profitable acquisition for Steve Knapp, who trains the 6-year-old Unusual Heat horse for owners Albert and Kathleen Mattivi of Camarillo.

Claimed by Knapp for $8,000 at the 2011 Fairplex Park meet, Unusual Jazz has won five times since and earned some $170,000. The turf specialist won yesterday’s $58,000 Trinity River allowance purse at Santa Anita, and last March 24 captured the March Madness Handicap at The Great Race Place.

“I saw him run for $16,000 at Del Mar,” said Knapp in explaining the reason for his claim. “He got left at the gate, Bejarano stood up on him at the three-eighths pole, then got him going again and he came five-wide and still closed down the lane. I thought the horse had a really nice way of moving.

“I think he ran fourth that day and was flying, and I said, ‘I’m going to take a look at that horse.’ Next time I figured he’d be in for 16 again and he was in for eight at Fairplex. I just took a chance.”

Despite the horse’s success, Knapp, who resides in Chino Hills, has no visions of grandeur. “He’ll go back in the same conditions, where he fits,” Knapp said. “He’s had a lot of races (19) and I want to just win with him.”


Freddy Wilson, lifetime veteran horseman and exercise rider passed away in his sleep last Dec. 26. He was 71.

Freddy was well known on the backside for his ability to handle tough and problem horses and over the years worked with many of them, including the good horse Maharas owned by the late Pete "The Greek" Christophe.

More recently, Wilson rode the pony that accompanied Zenyatta to and from the track in her morning workouts for trainer John Sheriffs.

There will be a service in his honor this Monday, Jan. 14, from 1 to 6 p.m. at 4756 W. 169th Street, Lawndale, CA 90260.

“Freddy was one of the good guys and will be sorely missed by many,” said Santa Anita mutuel clerk Billy Tripp, a long-time friend and fellow exercise rider.

FINISH LINES: Bill Spawr reports that 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie returned to his barn at Santa Anita Friday after being turned out since his disappointing eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita last Nov. 3 . . . Laz Barrera winner Drill worked in company with stablemate Apriority on Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday for Bob Baffert. Each was clocked in a bullet 46.20 for four furlongs. Drill rallied to finish fourth after a slow start in the Grade I Malibu last out, but Baffert offered no race for the son of Lawyer Ron’s next start . . . Malibu winner Jimmy Creed worked six furlongs for Richard Mandella in 1:14.40, while King Glorious winner Weewinnin went five furlongs for Brian Koriner in 1:01.40. In all, there were 200 recorded works on Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday. In addition, there were 34 on the turf and two on the training track . . . Brice Blanc hopes to get off to a fresh start with new agent Joe Griffin. Blanc and Mike Ciani recently parted ways after a 2 ½-year run. “It’s tough on this circuit and I wanted to try something different,” said Blanc. “Right now it’s as tough as it’s been out here. There’s a lot of competition and a lot of hungry riders. “ . . . Due to technical problems, Santa Anita’s results line is out of action until further notice . . . Congratulations to Joe Talamo, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today . . . When 7-5 favorite Cuvee Exchange ran fourth in Friday’s first race, 571 ShowVivor players were eliminated, reducing the field to 744.