01/27/2010 12:00AM

Setsuko looks for repeat against winners


ARCADIA, Calif. - It took five starts and a set of blinkers for the 3-year-old colt Setsuko to finally get his act together. The question Wednesday at Santa Anita is can Setsuko do it again?

Richard Mandella trains Setsuko, a son of Pleasantly Perfect whose 2-year-old campaign was a frustrating sequence of unfinished business. Fourth in his debut, Setsuko followed with three ordinary in-the-money finishes in maiden route races. He was going nowhere until Mandella added blinkers.

"I put them on because he was not quite following through with his job," Mandella explained.

Wearing new equipment for his fifth start, Setsuko caught a soft field of maidens, surged to the lead at the top of the Hollywood Park stretch, and powered home by three lengths.

It was a visually impressive win by a well-bred prospect that Mandella describes as a "big, growthy colt that just seems to be getting better and better."

It is a good time of year to turn on the switch, with only three months to the Kentucky Derby.

"Let's get past this one first," Mandella cautioned, but added, "Anyone with a 3-year-old dreams about it . . . or lies about it."

Setsuko meets seven entry-level allowance rivals Wednesday at nine furlongs on grass. The race was part of the Jan. 21 program that was canceled. With more rain forecast, the Wednesday allowance could be switched to Pro-Ride.

"I don't think it's going to matter one way or the other," Mandella said. Setsuko's first five starts were on the main track.

Rafael Bejarano takes over for the suspended jockey Joel Rosario on Setsuko, whose main rivals are stakes-placed Alfarabi and last-start maiden winner Ace of Aces.

Trainer Jeff Mullins said Ace of Aces's front-running maiden win was "not really the style we want him to show." Ace of Aces has won 1 of 3.

Alfarabi will be well-backed based on a sharp runner-up finish last out in the $72,000 Eddie Logan Stakes. Garrett Gomez rides Alfarabi, who rallied from more than nine lengths off the pace last time and missed by three-quarters of a length to Macias.

Other starters in the race 7 feature on Wednesday include Coloursoftheglen, Bradio Station, Straightomidnight, Fog Alert, and Indian Firewater. If he starts, Indian Firewater is expected to set the pace. The route race is the first try around two turns for the pace-pressing sprinter.