Jenny and Sidney Craig's Candy Ride took a major step toward the head of the Southern California handicap division with an impressive victory in Friday's $150,000 American Handicap (gr. IIT) on the turf at Hollywood Park.
The undefeated Argentine 4-year-old colt won his fifth straight race and his second in the United States, covering the 1 1/8-mile test on a firm turf in 1:46 1/5. He defeated a game Special Ring by three-quarters of a length. Irish Warrior was third, two lengths farther back.
"The jets got cranked up at the half-mile pole and they just kept cranking," said winning rider Gary Stevens. "He gives me a heck of a good feeling."
Trainer Ron McAnally plans to switch Candy Ride to the dirt for the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at 1 1/4 mile, Stevens said. Friday's nine-furlong American is the farthest he has gone.
"The Craigs wanted a Pacific Classic horse and Ron got them one," Stevens enthused.
Special Ring, ridden by David Flores, got away from the gate the quickest and held a slight edge over Candy Ride through the first turn and down the backstretch while establishing soft fractions of :24, :47 4/5 and 1:11 as the other three rivals in the field of five trailed closely. But as Candy Ride increased the pressure on the final turn and into the stretch, the others fell back and the two leaders vied through the stretch.
The son of Ride The Rails switched leads in the final furlong and gained the advantage close to home after a couple of cracks of the whip from Stevens, edging away from Special Ring, a mile specialist now winless in four starts at nine furlongs.
In spite of two group I wins in Argentina, Candy Ride enjoyed the biggest payday of his brief career, earning $90,000. He won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on dirt impressively by three lengths at Hollywood in his U.S. debut on June 7. He now has a career bankroll of $149,145.
Stevens said Candy Ride raced greenly early as he settled in behind Special Ring, but really picked up the pace.
"He's really serious," Stevens said. I worked him prior to his last race by that was on the same day as the Belmont Stakes. Fortunately, I got the mount back. He's special. I've been on some good ones, but he gives me a feeling not many do.
Sent off at even money, Candy Ride paid $4, $2.60 $2.10. Special Ring returned $3 and $2.10. Irish Warrior's show was $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $7.60.