"Then he ran the race of his life."
When the day was done, the numbers Mandella had put up were startling. For perspective, remember that the Breeders' Cup offered a total prize package in '03 of $14 million, $11 million less than now.
Mandella's winning races alone — he had other horses that also hit the board — brought his owners 60% of $8.5 million, or $5.1 million. His 10% was worth $510,000.
But he found more.
"Long after it was over," he says, "I was walking out, starting to come back to Earth. I had my tie loosened and was headed home, but I walked past the guys on TVG and they were still broadcasting. They saw me, called me over, and so I joined them.
"And as we were talking, I remembered something. My son [trainer Gary Mandella] told me when we were at Del Mar that summer that Pleasantly Perfect was listed at 40-1 in the Classic at one of the future books in Vegas.
"I gave him $20, he made the bet, and the morning of the Classic, I put the ticket in my shoe for good luck.
"Then I forgot about it until I was sitting there on the TV set. So I reached down, pulled it out and held it up."
The ticket was worth $820.
So, the next time you are searching for the definition of a good day, think Oct. 25, 2003, and Richard Mandella.