John Sadler, a Californian through and through, has two chances Saturday to win the most famous race in the history of the Golden State, and they’re not slim and none.

The 54-year-old Long Beach native, who resides in Pasadena, sends out favored Twirling Candy and Gladding in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino.

“We got a good draw with both horses and we’re pretty much ready to go,” Sadler said Thursday morning. Odds-on morning line favorite Twirling Candy drew No. 5 in a field of 11 for owners the Craig Family Trust, William Farish and Martin Wygod, while Gladding got No. 3 for the C R K Stable of Susan Searing. The Big ’Cap will be decided at a mile and a quarter.

While the betting public will favor Twirling Candy over Gladding, Sadler must remain neutral. “You come with a plan that’s best for each horse,” Sadler said when asked about pre-race strategy. Gladding led throughout in winning the Grade II San Antonio Stakes last out, but has come from just off the pace to win in the past.

Twirling Candy, winner of six of his seven career starts including the Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs and the Grade II Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, is never far back and displays a strong closing kick.

“Gladding doesn’t necessarily have to be on the lead,” Sadler said. “He sat second when he won here opening week (at one mile on Dec. 29) and I think he was second or third when he won at Calder.

“Both horses are position-type horse where they’re not going to be way back. I would say neither one probably would want to be on the lead.”

The field for the 74th running of the Santa Anita Handicap, which goes as the 10th of 11 races: Soul Candy, Garrett Gomez, 114, 30-1; Spurrier, Alonso Quinonez, 115, 15-1; Gladding, Rafael Bejarano, 117, 6-1; Pode Ir, David Flores, 112, 50-1; Twirling Candy, Joel Rosario, 122, 4-5; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza, 112, 30-1; Quindici Man, Martin Pedroza, 115, 30-1; First Dude, Martin Garcia, 116, 5-1; Tweebster, Mike Smith, 116, 15-1; Aggie Engineer, Joe Talamo, 118, 6-1; and Game on Dude, John Velazquez, 115, 15-1.

Saturday’s local weather forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s. On Big ’Cap Day, Santa Anita will offer an attractive Santa Anita baseball cap free, with paid admission, while supplies last. There is a guaranteed $500,000 late Pick 4.

First post time on Big ‘Cap Day is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.


Mike Machowsky is sitting on ready with his rags-to-riches gelding Caracortado for Saturday’s Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf.

“We didn’t draw the one hole, and there’s enough speed in there to keep the pace honest,” said the trainer who bred and owns a share of the 4-year-old California-bred gelding along with Don Blahut. “All we need now is to have a good trip.”

Caracortado had just that last out in the Sunshine Millions Turf, winning by a half-length over The Usual Q.T., who will miss the Kilroe due to a bruised foot. Sydney’s Candy, who would have been another major player in the Kilroe, also is out with an injury.

“This was a much tougher race than people thought two weeks ago with those two horses not running,” Machowsky said. As far as strategy goes, since Joe Talamo has ridden Caracortado in his last three races, winning two, the trainer will keep instructions to the 21-year-old jockey simple.

“Just don’t get stopped,” Machowsky said. “That’s the only thing to worry about, is not getting stuck behind tiring horses. Caracortado has that turn of foot where if he’s in a jackpot somewhere, he can get himself out of it. We just need a little clear sailing and we’ll be all right.”

The field for the Kilroe: Liberian Freighter, Martin Garcia; Fluke, Rafael Bejarano; Acclamation, Christian Santiago Reyes; Caracortado, Joe Talamo; Square Eddie, Joel Rosario; Sebastian Flyte, Garrett Gomez; Lieve, Corey Nakatani; Times Gone By, Victor Espinoza; Jeranimo, David Flores; and Gallant Son, Mike Smith. KILOGRAEME FACES TOUGH CHALLENGE IN SANTA ANITA OAKS

After two impressive come-from-behind wins in her only two starts, Kilograeme faces her most daunting challenge Saturday in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks at a mile and one sixteenth. “She hasn’t done anything wrong,” said Garrett Gomez, who rides the chestnut daughter of Graeme Hall for trainer Mike Mitchell and owners Billy Koch (Little Red Feather Racing), Tom McCrocklin and Weila Ye.

“She outran a nice field the other day in her second out, first time two-turning. She’s a real sweetheart. Hopefully she continues to move forward, and she’ll have to in order to win Saturday, because there are some decent fillies in the Oaks.

“She could do it, though. She’s live enough, but she’s running back in three weeks. She is very smart, however, and that helps her a lot. She’s willing to listen to what you’re trying to tell her to do. She’ll stay all day, so the farther they go, the better for her.”

The field for the Oaks: May Day Rose, Martin Garcia; Zazu, Joel Rosario; Turbulent Descent, David Flores; Kilograeme, Gomez; and A Z Warrior, Rafael Bejarano.

Each filly carries 122 pounds.


HRTV will present a special half-hour edition of its popular show “Grandstand” featuring the live running of the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday at 5 p.m.

“Grandstand” is hosted by Laffit Pincay III, son of five-time Santa Anita Handicap-winning jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. Pincay’s co-hosts, Gary Stevens and Jeff Siegel, have also won the Big ‘Cap. Stevens rode the winner in 1990, 1991, 1995 and 2005, while Siegel was a part-owner of Martial Law, the upset winner of the 1989 running at odds of 50-to-1.

FINISH LINES: John Shirreffs said that Zardana, conqueror of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, is likely to make her next start in the Grade I, $500,000 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park April 15, as is 2010 California Horse of the Year Evening Jewel for trainer Jim Cassidy. Turf specialist Harmonious, beaten nearly seven lengths on the main track in the La Caňada Stakes won by Always a Princess on Feb. 13, is due to return to grass in the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes March 19, Sherriffs said . . . Santa Anita is hosting a one of a kind photography day on Friday, March 11, at Clockers’ Corner. Participants should be at Santa Anita by 7:30 a.m. to register. With the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains and hundreds of horses working out, it’s a perfect setting. When workouts conclude, breakfast will be served, followed by a question and answer session with track photographers, trainers and management, all for $20. Each person will have access to the paddock and winner’s circle. Photos from the day will be posted on the web site. Tickets include general admission, general parking, breakfast and press credentials for the day. For more information, visit . . . Shannon Hovsepian’s mother, Jan Keeling Ritter, passed away suddenly on Feb. 26. Jan worked in Santa Anita’sTurf Club office and retired 12 years ago. She was a racing fan and frequent visitor at Santa Anita. Funeral services will be held this Sunday, 11 a.m. at Live Oak Memorial Park, 200 E. Duarte Rd. in Monrovia (626-359-5311) . . . Joe Talamo will be Steve Andersen’s guest on Saturday at Daily Racing Form’s handicapping seminar, 10:45 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Aaron Hesz of Handicappers’ Report and Jeff Siegel of HRTV will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., also in the East Paddock Gardens.