March 8, 1998 in Sports

Gentlemen Last Horse In At Santa Anita

Associated Press

What figured to be one of the most interesting Santa Anita Handicaps since the race was first run in 1935 turned out to be one of the most surprising.

Gentlemen, the 1-20 favorite who figured to have an easy time after Silver Charm was scratched Friday, finished last in the field of four, and trainer Richard Mandella said afterward he didn’t know what went wrong.

Mandella also trains Malek, an unheralded Chilean-bred 5-year-old who survived a stretch-long duel with Bagshot to win Saturday’s $1 million “Big ‘Cap” by a half-length.

Malek, winning for the ninth time in 15 starts, won $600,000 to increase his lifetime earnings to $828,898.

“It’s a strange feeling, I don’t know how to describe it,” Mandella said. “I’m very happy for the winner. I’m stunned that anybody beat Gentlemen.

“What’s wrong with Gentlemen? I don’t know. I’m sure physically as far as soundness, he’s all right. We’ll just have to see.”

Mandella said he told jockey Pat Day before the race that “if you’ve got a lot left in hand, don’t use it, because we’re planning to go to Dubai in three weeks (for the $4 million Dubai World Cup).”

Now, that won’t happen, Mandella said, but Malek might make the long trip.

Gentlemen, who carried high weight of 125 pounds, appeared to be running easily as he raced on even terms with Malek most of the way, but as the field turned for home, with Malek, Gentlemen and Bagshot running together, the favorite suddenly began to fade.

Gentlemen steadily dropped back as Malek and Bagshot dueled to the wire. Don’t Blame Rio caught and passed Gentlemen shortly before the finish line, finishing 7 lengths behind Bagshot and a neck ahead of Gentlemen.

Ridden by Alex Solis and carrying 115 pounds, Malek covered 1-1/4 miles in 2:02-1/5 and paid $13.20 and $15.60. Bagshot, ridden by Corey Nakatani and carrying 113 pounds, returned $29.80.

Because there were only four entries, there was no show betting.

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