What was Scandal, a 5-year-old mare with a 0-for-15 record doing in an allowance-level race against winners of as many as four races to open the Thanksgiving Day card at Del Mar?
The answer: Getting ready to produce her first win and provide further evidence of the savvy horsemanship that have put both trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Mike Smith in the Hall of Fame.
Stretched out beyond 1 1/8 miles for the first time in the 1 3/8-mile turf race, Scandal ($8.60) went wire-to-wire from the No. 1 post to nose out favored Bombilate and Hall of Famer Gary Stevens.
“I always wanted to run her a mile and three eighths or a mile and a half,” Mandella said of Scandal, a daughter of Blame out of the Quiet American mare Quiet Summernight. “She's got a big, easy stride and I just thought she'd be comfortable going the distance.”
Prior to Thursday's victory, Scandal had been second nine times in her 15 career starts for Claiborne Farm and Ramona Bass while compiling earnings of $127,850.
“Maiden races never came up that way, so finally this race came up and I decided I wanted to try it,” Mandella said. “I'd screwed it up this far, so I might as well try something different. You never know until you try.”
“It becomes frustrating when you keep running second. And when the other filly passed her 50 yards out, I thought she was going to be second again. When she came back to win, I couldn't believe it.”
Smith had Scandal three lengths in front after the first quarter mile, nursed the diminishing lead to deep in the stretch and then got a winning surge after Bombilate appeared to take a slight advantage.
“I told him to ride her like he owned her and he gave her a terrific ride,” Mandella said. “He does that time after time.”
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