California trainer John Sadler sent Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) winner Candy Boy through his final major preparations for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) April 26, getting Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens in the irons for the colt's five-furlong work at Churchill Downs.
In company with stablemate Monument, the Candy Ride colt went the distance in 1:00 4/5, starting several lengths back of his rival but making up ground with steady progress. Churchill clockers credited Candy Boy in splits of :12 2/5, :24 2/5, :36 1/5, and out in 1:13 4/5.
"Our horse looked very good and Gary was very happy when they were pulling up," Sadler said. "I was happy with the work; he looked nice and smooth. I'm glad I brought company; sometimes I've brought horses here and didn't have a workmate, but today we had a workmate and it looked like he worked really well. We wanted to get one work over this track so our horse could get a feel for it."
Candy Boy won the Feb. 8 Robert B. Lewis going 1 1/16 miles by half a length over eventual Sunland Derby (gr. III) winner and fellow Kentucky Derby contender Chitu . He was last seen finishing third in the April 5 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) behind likely Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome and Rebel Stakes (gr. II) winner Hoppertunity.
"He's gotta run stronger than he did last time," Sadler said of Candy Boy's performance in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby. "He was probably a little short for his last race; I gave him two months between starts so he might have gotten a little bit tired for his last race, but he came out of it in good shape. He's been a very consistent horse for us, always runs one, two, three and always runs a good race, so, we were happy the way he came out of it and we're looking forward to running him a mile and a quarter."
Since breaking his maiden Nov. 22 at Hollywood Park in his fourth try for breeders Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable, Candy Boy has not finished off the board. He ran second to Shared Belief in the Dec. 14 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) prior to his Robert B. Lewis victory, followed by the Santa Anita Derby third.
Sadler said planned tactics for the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby will not involve early speed for Candy Boy, who won the Robert B. Lewis from fourth to first with a late three-wide run.
"A little different style for him next Saturday," the trainer said. "He was up kind of close at Santa Anita because the track was a little speed-favoring. We want to be a little further back (in the Derby); we think that he can run very even for a long distance."
Candy Boy, bred in Kentucky out of the In Excess mare She's an Eleven, ranks 17th on the leaderboard for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field. He heads to the race with a 2-2-1 record from seven starts and earnings of $425,600.