03/02/2011 5:36PM

Quindici Man has work cut out against Twirling Candy

Shigeki Kikkawa
Quindici Man will make his 32nd career start in the Santa Anita Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Martin Pedroza won the Santa Anita Handicap in his first try on the longshot Martial Law in 1989 and has spent the last two decades trying to duplicate the feat.

In six rides since in the Big Cap since 1990, Pedroza’s mounts have been unplaced, a streak he hopes ends on Saturday when he rides the longshot Quindici Man for the first time for trainer Craig Lewis.

Pedroza, 45, is a realist. He knows Quindici Man is an outsider in a field led by the outstanding 4-year-old Twirling Candy, but plans to spend time leading to Saturday’s race studying past performances and replays on the Internet.

“I watch race replays all the time on the computer,” said Pedroza, who through Sunday was tied for fifth in the jockey’s standings with 27 wins.

“Not only my horses but the competition, so I have an idea of what to expect. I’ve won a lot of races like that on horses that I’ve never ridden.

“Twirling Candy is obviously the horse. If he doesn’t show up, you never know what can happen.”

Twirling Candy, who was schooled in the starting gate on Wednesday, is the 4-5 favorite on track oddsmaker Jon White’s morning line for the $750,000 race over 1 1/4 miles. Trained by John Sadler, Twirling Candy drew post 5 in a field of 11. First Dude, second in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes last year, is the second choice at 5-1.

Quindici Man was third to Big Cap entrant Aggie Engineer in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 8 and fourth to Big Cap entrant Gladding in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 6. A 5-year-old horse by Came Home, Quindici Man makes his 32nd start on Saturday, seeking his first graded stake win and fifth career stakes win.

Quindici Man will carry 115 pounds, seven fewer than topweight Twirling Candy, and an assignment that Pedroza can make.

A few riders will be over their weight assignments. Setsuko, second in the 2010 Santa Anita Derby, was awarded 112 pounds, but his jockey Victor Espinoza is most comfortable tacking 113 or 114 pounds. The extra weight is not as much of a concern to trainer Richard Mandella as the presence of Twirling Candy.

“I’d be surprised if he beats Twirling Candy, but things can happen,” Mandella said. “He does seem to be back to himself, which is why I’m in there.”