It’s far too early for Richard Mandella to be smitten with Derby Fever, but the Hall of Fame trainer has reserved hopes that Setsuko will advance any such aspirations for the May 1 Run for the Roses with a progressive step forward in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

“He’s doing real well,” Mandella said of the 3-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect, who Mandella conditioned to win the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Oak Tree.

“He ran a mile and an eighth on the grass the other day (second by a half-length on Jan. 27),” Mandella said of Setsuko, who has never finished worse than fourth in six career starts for owners/breeders Wertheimer and Frere. “It looks like distance is not going to be any question for him, but this should provide a barometer on how good he is. You have to keep stepping up to find out.

“He ran second last out, but I thought he was the best horse in the race. He had kind of a funny trip.”

Setsuko will be ridden by Santa Anita’s hottest jockey, Rafael Bejarano, who through Sunday had opened a 54-35 lead over runner-up Joel Rosario in the race for leading rider.

The field for the Sham: The Program, Martin Garcia; Kettle River, Brice Blanc; Straightomidnight, Omar Berrio; Outlaw Man, Garrett Gomez; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano; Wolf Tail, Chantal Sutherland; Viva Macho, Silvio Amador; El Mirage King, Tyler Baze; Alphie’s Bet, Alex Solis; and Nextdoorneighbor, Mike Smith.


Jack’s Wild knows his way around the race track. The 8-year-old gelding trained by Jorge Guiterrez has run 34 times, winning four. He goes for No. 5 in Sunday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Handicap, and a return to the turf should improve the chances of the son of Li’l Tyler. Jack’s Wild finished eighth and last in the Super Bowl Party Handicap on Feb. 7 after the race was moved from turf to Pro-Ride. He is winless in two starts on synthetic, but has a 2-2-1 record from 19 starts on the grass.

“He ran in a restricted race for $32,000 at one mile on the grass before the Super Bowl race and ran huge (closing fast to finish fourth by a length) ,“Guiterrez said. “He had traffic problems in the race and probably could have won with better luck.

“Hopefully, he will rebound in the Crystal Water, because I know he didn’t like the surface last out. I’ve had the horse throughout his career except for one race, when he ran in the Sunshine Millions Turf for Cliff Sise.”

Jack’s Wild has a 4-5-3 record overall, with earnings of $373,750 for owners Benjamin C., Benjamin T. and William Warren of Hemet.

Jack’s Wild worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in 1:02.80.

Probable for the Crystal Water: Compari, Garrett Gomez, 119; Jack’s Wild, Brice Blanc, 114; Liberian Freighter, Rafael Bejarano, 121; and Live Sundays, Alex Solis, 117.

Compari worked four furlongs at Hollywood Park Wednesday in :49.40 for Marty Jones.


One advantage Santa Anita’s jockeys rarely enjoy in their annual Charity Basketball Game with Holy Angels School is size. The students usually have an edge on the riders in that category, but when the two squads square off tomorrow night, Kurt Hoover, who coaches the riders, is hoping to counter size with endurance.

“A big plus this year is that we’ll finally have some depth,” said Hoover, HRTV’s anchor/analyst who has coached the jockeys for the past 10 years.

“In past years, our bench has been thin and our guys have worn down in the fourth quarter. Hopefully, we can pull off the upset this year.”

Tip off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at LaSalle High School in Pasadena.

Game captain David Flores, Paul Atkinson, Rafael Bejarano, Joel Rosario, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo, Martin Garcia, Brice Blanc, Alonso Quinonez, Felipe Valdez, Mike Baze, Tyler Baze, Omar Berrio, Christian Santiago Reyes, Micheal James and others are expected to participate.

Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic department. LaSalle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles from Santa Anita. Admission is $5.


A memorial service for longtime turf writer Larry Bortstein, who passed away at age 67 on Jan. 31, will be held in Santa Anita’s FrontRunner Restaurant today at 5 p.m., following the afternoon’s races.

Bortstein, who at the time of his death was a regular contributor to the Orange County Register and the California Thoroughbred Magazine, succumbed from the effects of a pulmonary embolism he suffered at his home on Jan. 23.

His longtime friend and colleague, Bill Christine, a retired multiple Eclipse Award-winning staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, will emcee the service.

Today’s eighth race is named the Farewell to Larry Bortstein in Bortstein’s memory.

FINISH LINES: Comedian/actor George Lopez will cover Thursday’s Holy Angels vs. Santa Anita jockeys basketball game at LaSalle High School in Pasadena. Lopez hosts a show on TNT that airs nightly at 8 p.m. . . . There could be a full field for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, headed by the 5-year-old mare St Trinians and turf specialist Loup Breton. Other likely starters in the mile and a quarter classic are High Court Drama, Michael Baze; Misremembered, Martin Garcia; and Neko Bay, Mike Smith. Garrett Gomez rides Loup Breton for Julio Canani, while Joel Rosario has the mount on St Trinians for Mike Mitchell . . . Kentucky Derby Future Book favorite Lookin At Lucky worked six furlongs on Pro-Ride Monday in a pedestrian 1:15.40 under Martin Garcia. Trainer Bob Baffert termed the drill “nice” Wednesday morning and said he is considering either the Grade II, $150,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 13 or the Grade II, $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 14 for the colt’s 3-year-old debut. Lookin At Lucky worked in company with El Martillo, who was clocked in 1:16.40 under Joe Steiner . . . The Usual Q.T., who disappointed when he bled in the Sunshine Millions Classic on Pro-Ride Jan. 30, worked five furlongs on turf Wednesday in 1:03.60 for the Grade I, $250,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf March 6. Regular rider Victor Espinoza was aboard . . . Evening Jewel, who suffered a crushing nose defeat to Blind Luck in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 6, worked five furlongs on turf Wednesday in 1:02.80. She is nominated to the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on March 6, but trainer Jim Cassidy could opt for a softer spot rather than face Blind Luck again. “I’m considering the Providencia (Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf on April 3),” the trainer said. “I could still try the Oaks. We’ll see what happens. Right now, it’s 50-50.” Cozie Rosie, trained by John Sadler for Jerry and Ann Moss, is an Oaks probable. The daughter of Pleasantly Perfect will be ridden by Mike Smith . . . American Lion, third in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 13, worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Wednesday in :48.60. “I haven’t decided what might be next,” trainer Eoin Harty said . . . Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner California Flag worked six furlongs on turf Wednesday in a bullet 1:15 for Brian Koriner in preparation for the $1 million Al Quoz at 1200 meters on Meydan’s straightaway turf course in Dubai March 27 . . . Veteran agent Harry (The Hat) Hacek was a visitor at Clockers’ Corner Wednesday. “This is the first time I’ve been at Santa Anita in three years,” said Hacek, who has been battling health issues . . . Unusual Smoke and Lease of Life finished in a dead-heat for first in Sunday’s fifth race. It was the first win dead-heat of the meet . . . The deadline is approaching for members interested in serving on the Thoroughbred Owners of California board to submit petition forms. TOC holds its annual election of directors in June, and for 2010 four owner category seats and one owner/trainer category seat are open, all for three-year terms. Those interested in running for the board have until March 1 to obtain and submit 50 signatures from current TOC members supporting their candidacy. To qualify for board service, an individual must meet the following criteria: be a TOC member, own at least 25 percent of a Thoroughbred racehorse, have started a horse or horses a minimum of six times in California during the preceding calendar year, and be a member in good standing. To obtain the petition form, contact TOC's Santa Anita office at (626) 574-6620. Completed petitions must be returned to TOC at 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, Calif., 91007, postmarked no later than March 1, 2010 . . . Toby Turrell of Winners Card and HRTV’s Jeff Siegel will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . ShowVivor II stood at 267 contestants going into Wednesday’s races.