Trainer Richard Mandella has horses entered in four Santa Anita Park stakes this Memorial Day weekend and hopes to celebrate the holiday weekend in style.
On Saturday, the Hall of Fame trainer sends out United in the Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) before on Monday, Memorial Day, Voodoo Song returns in the Shoemaker Mile (G1), Siberian Iris goes in the Gamely Stakes (G2) and Jolie Olimpica features in the Monrovia Stakes (G2).
Jolie Olimpica and United loom heavy favorites.
She captured the Las Cienegas (G3) at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in her U.S. debut Jan. 11 before running second by a half-length after leading until the shadow of the wire in the Buena Vista Stakes (G2) at a mile on grass Feb. 22.
The Monrovia, at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, will mark her first start in three months, and Mandella is confident that down the road the chestnut miss owned by Fox Hills Farms will have success going two turns.
“She will, eventually,” he said. “With all the rest she’s had, for the Monrovia I went back to how I trained her when she first came here.”
All her recent works have been above average, topped by a bullet 1:12.20 for six furlongs on April 23.
United will be making his first start since returning from Dubai, where he missed the March 28 Sheema Classic. Last time out, he won the San Marcos (G2) at Santa Anita.
Mandella shrugged off thoughts of undue pressure he might experience by sending out strong favorites.
“Pressure,” he said, “is being 51-1 and wondering how to put food on the table.”
Siberian Iris will be making her first start in four months, since finishing third in the Astra Stakes (G3) at a 1 1/2 miles on turf.
“I’d rather the race be further, but this is what it is,” Mandella said of the 1 1/8-mile Gamely.
Voodoo Song will represent Mandella and owner Barry Schwartz in the Shoemaker.
The six-year-old English Channel horse has not raced since March 21, when he had an eventful trip finishing sixth in the San Simeon Stakes (G3) at 5 1/2 furlongs over a good turf course.