Still simmering from the non-call by stewards in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) following a rough stretch run March 5, trainer Richard Mandella reported that runner-up Setsuko sustained an injured left front leg.
At Santa Anita the morning of March 6, the Hall of Fame conditioner said the injury resulted from contact with heavily favored Twirling Candy during the Big 'Cap. Setsuko finished second by a nose to Game On Dude, whose victory was allowed to stand in a controversial decision by track stewards.
“He came out of the race with a cut on his left front leg,” said Mandella. “He’s got a lot of swelling in the leg and we’re treating it, hoping that it isn’t going to become more serious. There’s no question he got cut by Twirling Candy.”
Setsuko, Twirling Candy and Game on Dude, were involved in repeated contact approaching midstretch, resulting in a 12-minute inquiry. Steward Scott Chaney said afterward that Twirling Candy, who finished fifth, was responsible for the chain-reaction bumping. SinceTwirling Candy finished behind the other two, there was no disqualification.
“I said yesterday that I had no comment and I don’t want to drag the game down by saying anything now about the decision the stewards made,” Mandella said.
Mandella was critical of winning trainer Bob Baffert for "trying to talk to the other jockeys and to the stewards" during the deliberation.
“I was trying to be a gentleman and unless the trainer is claiming foul, I just don’t think it’s right that he is trying to talk to the jocks and to the stewards,” he explained.
Mandella is a three-time winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, winning it in 1997 with Siphon, in ’98 with Malek and in 2005 with Rock Hard Ten.