Sweet Pickings for Sidney's Candy in Swaps

Sweet Pickings for Sidney's Candy in Swaps
Photo: Benoitphoto.com
Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney's Candy hasn't run since finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby.
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Sidney's Candy  , in his first start since the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is the clear standout among five 3-year-olds for the $200,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. II) July 17 as Hollywood Park limps to the end of its 2010 spring/summer meet.

Two grade II stakes set for the program, the 1 1/8-mile Swaps and the $150,000 A Gleam Stakes for fillies and mares at seven furlongs, attracted a total of 11 participants when entries were taken July 14. The meet, which began April 21, winds up July 18. Action switches to Del Mar on July 21.

Just eight were nominated to the Swaps, which is the ninth race on the program with a 5:05 p.m. PDT post, so a small field was expected.

The race came up even lighter than hoped when trainer Ron Ellis opted not to run Jay Em Ess Stable's Golden Itiz, recent winner of the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) because he was concerned about the Tiznow   colt's lackluster five-furlong work in 1:02 2/5 at Hollywood July 11. Without Golden Itiz, it was also unnecessary to add Jay Em Ess's Pinal to the Swaps lineup as a pace rival for Sidney's Candy. Concord Point  , romping winner of the Iowa Derby (gr. III) June 26 for trainer Bob Baffert, also passed the race.

That leaves the Craig Family Trust's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner to lead the Swaps in his Hollywood debut for trainer John Sadler. Sidney's Candy is to be joined by Skipshot  , Alphie's Bet, and Summer Movie, who ran second through fourth in the Affirmed. Sadler also entered Twirling Candy  , a second son of Candy Ride  , to the field as part of a coupled entry for the Craig Family Trust.

All eyes -- and most of the money -- figure to be on Sidney's Candy as he attempts to rebound from his 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Sadler blamed the outside post 20, a sloppy track, and a fast pace for Sidney's Candy fizzle in the Run for the Roses. The front-running chestnut colt dominated three graded stakes at Santa Anita leading up to his Churchill Downs effort, including a 4 1/2-length triumph in the Santa Anita Derby April 3. In his final work for the Swaps, the homebred clocked 1:25 3/5 for seven furlongs at Hollywood July 11.

“We just gave him time to get his energy back up,” said Sadler, who is seeking his first Swaps victory. “He’s had plenty of works over this track since he came back.”

Sidney's Candy, who has won four of seven races with one second and earnings of $673,560, drew post 3 with Joe Talamo aboard once again. Talamo has ridden Sidney's Candy, who carries top weight of 122 pounds, in all of his races.

The other half of the entry, Twirling Candy, is unbeaten in two starts, most recently crushing an optional claiming allowance field by 7 3/4 lengths while completing  6 1/2 furlongs in a rapid 1:15:08 May 29 at Hollywood. Victor Espinoza rides Twirling Candy, who will carry 112.

The improving Skipshot, a winner of three consecutive races at Golden Gate Fields for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer earlier in the year, is still seeking his first stakes victory. Olympia Star's Kentucky-bred son of Skip Away chased a fast pace in the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed and took a half length lead mid-stretch, but could not hold off Golden Itiz in the late stages, losing by a half length. Skipshot, fifth in the Santa Anita Derby, gets jockey Joel Rosario for the first time and carries 114. They'll  have Sidney's Candy just to their inside.

Alphie's Bet, who totes 120, has to hope there is pace pressure on Sidney's Candy in order to have his best chance. Winner of the Sham Stakes (gr. III) this spring at Santa Anita, the Tribal Rule colt also has a stakes win at Hollywood in the Snow Chief for California breds April 24. But in the Affirmed, he languished at the back before putting in a four-wide bid into the lane that came up one length short. Mike Smith, who won the Swaps in 2002 with Came Home and in 2007 with Tiago  , retains the mount for trainer Alexis Barba.

Completing the field is Summer Movie, who was a decent fourth in the Affirmed, beaten by 2 3/4 lengths at odds of 21-1. A gray son of Holy Bull, Summer Movie has won two of six, both on turf, for owner George Krikorian and trainer Art Sherman.

$200,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:05 p.m.), 3-Year-olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Alphie's Bet (CA), M E Smith, 120, A Barba
2. Summer Movie (KY), M Garcia, 112, A Sherman
3. a-Sidney's Candy (KY), J Talamo, 122, J W Sadler
4. Skipshot (KY), J Rosario, 114, J Hollendorfer
5. a-Twirling Candy (KY), V Espinoza, 112, J W Sadler
a-The Craig Family Trust entry
 

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