Trainer Richard Mandella said one reason he entered maiden Acaffella ($4.80) in the $52,150 Angel Island Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday was to make an assessment of where he might run him later in the year.
After Acaffella's sensational six-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile stakes race for 2-year-olds, Mandella may be ready to set his sights pretty high.
Acaffella, a fast-finishing second in his racing debut on the turf at Del Mar on Aug. 25, was content to settle in off the pace set by El Gaucho before he began to move on the second turn. He gained momentum with a clean three-wide trip and exploded past the field in the lane, pulling away to win in 1:45.54 over Irish-bred Moment of Weakness, who had stalked the pace three wide in his U.S. debut.
"I was loaded the whole way," said winning rider Russell Baze, who had galloped Acaffella, a Mr. Greeley colt, on Friday morning. "Nothing bothers him, and he's easy to ride. When I chirped to him at the top of the stretch, he took off and was gone.
"This is a very nice horse," said Baze, adding that Mandella will "have some fun with him."