Twirling Candy, an emerging star in the handicap ranks, worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita's main track Sunday for next Saturday's Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo& Casino.
Under regular rider Joel Rosario, who needs eight more stakes wins this meet to set a Santa Anita record, Twirling Candy was timed in 1:25 flat.
“It was a very nice work,” said trainer John Sadler, who has eight graded stakes wins this meet and is cautiously confident he can win his first Big 'Cap. The 54-year-old Long Beach native finished fifth with his only other starter, Zappa, in 2008.
“He's ready to go. He's a wonderful horse,” Sadler said of Twirling Candy, winner of six of seven career starts including the Grade I Malibu Stakes and the Grade II Strub Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths this meet. “You've always got to run the race, but I wouldn't trade horses with anybody else.”
Probable for the 74th Santa Anita Handicap: Aggie Engineer, Joe Talamo, 118; First Dude, no rider, 116; Game on Dude, no rider, 115; Gladding, no rider, 117; Pode Ir, David Flores, 112; Quindici Man, no rider. 115; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza, 112; Soul Candy, Garrett Gomez, 114; Spurrier, no rider, 115; Tweebster, no rider, 116; and Twirling Candy, Joel Rosario, 122.
Setsuko worked seven furlongs Sunday in 1:25.60 under Victor Espinoza, who has the mount on Saturday. “He worked great,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “He finished (a mile) in :34 and change. He went off slow and finished strong. He's looking as good as he everdid.”
San Antonio Stakes winner Gladding also worked for Sadler, going seven furlongs in 1:24.80.
At Hollywood Park, San Antonio runner-up Spurrier worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.20 for Bob Baffert, who has four horses nominated to the Big 'Cap, but said he won't make a decision onwhich to run until Monday.
Two other Grade I races will be decided next Saturday, the Kilroe Mile on turf for older horses and the Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16miles for 3-year-old fillies.
Probable for Oaks: A Z Warrior, Rafael Bejarano; Kilograeme, Garrett Gomez; May Day Rose, Martin Garcia; Turbulent Descent, David Flores; Withgreatpleasure, Victor Espinoza; and Zazu, Joel Rosario, who worked the LasVirgenes winner six furlongs Sunday in 1:12.40.
“Zazu worked on the second break, very, very nice,” Sadler said. “She looks good and is ready for the Oaks. Switch will work tomorrow (for the Santa Margarita Stakes on March 12).”
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