The racing world is filled with stories of horses and humans overcoming the odds, bouncing back from injury and even staring death in the face and somehow coming through alive.
Mandola is one such story.
Looking like he was within a chance of winning the first race Sept. 2, 2015 at Saratoga Race Course, the then 5-year-old gelding fell over the last fence. He was making a run at the time, looking like he might come home a winner, then, in a moment of indecision he fell hard to the ground.
Mandola’s injuries from the fall – to his shoulder – looked pretty grim when diagnosed back at Jonathan Sheppard’s Saratoga barn at the Oklahoma Annex. He was also injured less than a week after Sheppard and his team dealt with the loss of the popular Divine Fortune.
Mandola amazingly survived and when Joe Clancy reported on him months later he was still going strong. How strong? Check out Joe’s words.
“Six months later, he’s still defying exaggerators – not that it was easy. …
“Mandola spent a few days in Saratoga, where he kept eating and remained comfortable. He improved enough to make Sheppard send him home to Pennsylvania.”
Joe’s story on Mandola’s recovery checks in at No. 7 on our countdown of the most read stories of 2016. It’s the first story from the jump-racing world, our bread-and-butter, and it won’t be the last. How many more will there be? You’ll have to stay tuned in through New Year’s Eve to find out the remaining six on the countdown.
And if you're wondering about the rest of the story, Mandola is happily retired in West Virgina, where he's an occasional lead pony and all around good egg at Mountaineer Park racetrack.
Check out the other stories so far on the Top 10 for 2016: