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 ½ 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 ever did.”

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 on which 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 1/16 miles 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 Las Virgenes 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).”

On Big ’Cap Day, Santa Anita will offer a handy Santa Anita baseball cap free, with paid admission, while supplies last. First post time on Big ‘Cap Day is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.


Not in his wildest dreams could Mike Machowsky have ever imagined Caracortado being in the lofty position he enjoys today, about to run in Saturday's Grade I Kilroe Mile on turf.

Not much was expected from the California-bred son of Cat Dreams when he made his debut in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Fairplex Park on Sept. 24, 2009. Even though he went off at nearly 10-1 that day, Machowsky liked the horse and backed him at the mutuel windows. Fast forward to Santa Anita, where Caracortado is scheduled to have his final breeze Monday on the track’s turf course.

“I didn’t think we’d be sitting where we’re at right now,” Machowsky said. “At Fairplex, I knew he was live that day. But he’s one of those horses that gets better as he gets older and can do about anything. I thought he was a nice horse, but I never expected him to accomplish what he has so far.”

Caracortado has seven wins and two thirds from 11 starts, and is unbeaten in two races on the grass, including the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 29.

“He might be better on grass, probably because of his turn of foot,” Machowsky said. “I’d say he’s more effective on the grass than on dirt, the way he accelerates, so I think that’s big advantage for him.”

After his maiden win, the chestnut gelding reeled off four more victories, including the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes. He finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby and seventh in the Preakness before Machowsky stopped on him. He didn’t return to the races until last Nov. 11 at Hollywood, where he almost equaled the track record for six furlongs on turf, winning for the first time under his current rider, Joe Talamo.

“I had Caracortado ready to go a half-mile at Fairplex (he won by a length and three-quarters in the four-furlong race),” Machowsky recalled. “I knew he’d be solid doing that. After that he breezed three-quarters at Santa Anita with another horse, and that told me he was going to be a nice Cal-bred.

“But to say he’d be one of the favorites in the Kilroe, I wouldn’t have thought that back then.”

Probable for the Kilroe: Acclamation, Christian Santiago Reyes; Caracortado, Joe Talamo; Fluke, Rafael Bejarano; Gallant Son, Joel Rosario; Jeranimo, David Flores; Sebastian Flyte, Garrett Gomez; and Times Gone By, Victor Espinoza.

FINISH LINES: M One Rifle worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday in a bullet :58.40 for Bruce Headley, who will be seeking his seventh win in the Potrero Grande Stakes on April 3 with the 2009 Malibu winner . . . Always a Princess is likely to seek her third stakes win this meet in the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes on March 12. “The way she’s doing, we’ll probably run,” Bob Baffert said of the front-running filly . . . San Luis Obispo Stakes runner-up Bourbon Bay worked four furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Sunday in :50.60, breezing, for Neil Drysdale, while John Shirreffs sent Harmonious the same distance in :51.60, breezing, and Rachel Alexandra conqueror Zardana likewise in :50.40, breezing . . . Christian Santiago Reyes, who led Santa Anita’s riders with 12 points in their exciting overtime win against Holy Angels Thursday night, said he honed his hoops skills while in high school in his native Puerto Rico.