A California native and the son of a blacksmith, Richard Mandella began breaking and galloping horses for Connie Ring at Three Rings Ranch while still in high school. He spent 18 months as an assistant to trainer Lefty Nickerson in New York in the early 1970s before leaving to work as a private trainer for Roger Braugh in 1974. Mandella opened his public stable in California in 1976 and had his first stakes winner the following year.
In the 1993 Breeders’ Cup, Mandella saddled Kotashaan to win the Turf, Phone Chatter to win the Juvenile Fillies and also trained Memo and Region to win two stakes on the undercard. His total earnings that day were $1.7 million. However, in the 2003 Breeders’ Cup, Mandella experienced the richest day of any trainer in history when he sent out four winners (Pleasantly Perfect in the Classic, Johar (dead heat) in the Turf, Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies and Action This Day in the Juvenile) for total earnings of $4.6 million. In all, Mandella has won seven Breeders' Cup races.
Mandella has trained five champions: Kotashaan, Phone Chatter, Halfbridled, Action This Day and beholder. Among his other significant horses are Pleasantly Perfect, The Tin Man, Dare and Go, Gentlemen, Malek, Rock Hard Ten and Siphon.
Mandella has won Grade 1 races on both coasts, including the Hollywood Gold Cup (2), Pacific Classic (3), Oaklawn Handicap (2), Santa Anita Handicap (3), Metropolitan Handicap, Goodwood Stakes (3), Del Mar Futurity (2), Arlington Million, Ancient Title Stakes, Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship Stakes (5), Haskell Invitational, Dubai World Cup and the Frank E. Kilroe Mike Handicap (3).
Through August 2013, Mandella trained the winners of 1,944 races for $121,229,244 million (ninth all time). He won six consecutive $1 million races in Southern California from the 1996 Hollywood Gold Cup through the 1998 Santa Anita Handicap. In the 1996 Pacific Classic, he snapped Hall of Famer Cigar’s 16-race win streak with Dare and Go at odds of 40-1. In the 2007 Shoemaker Breeders’ Cup Mile at Hollywood Park, Mandella sent out 9-year-old The Tin Man to win that Grade 1 stakes. He has won 18 races with a purse value of $1 million or more.
Mandella has won five training titles on the Southern California circuit and through 2012 ranked fifth all time in stakes wins at Del Mar with 49.
Richard Mandella was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2001.