As versatile as Sidney's Candy is, the options for WinStar Farm and Todd Pletcher are virtually limitless. For his next start, the connections decided to sprint him on dirt in the $250,000 Forego Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 3 at Saratoga.
The son of Candy Ride will face eight in the seven-furlong race, which shares the spotlight with the Woodward and Personal Ensign Invitational (both gr. I) on Saturday’s 12-race program. Post time for the Forego is set for 5:12 p.m. EDT.
Sidney’s Candy will cut back to a sprint distance for the first time since he won the seven-furlong San Vicente (gr. II) in February 2010 at Santa Anita. He will be making his second start for WinStar and co-owner Rubio B. Stable, as he went wire-to-wire in the July 31 Fourstardave (gr. IIT) on the Saratoga turf course last out.
The main goal for Sidney’s Candy this year will likely be either the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) or Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Last season as a 3-year-old, the chestnut colt set the pace and faded to sixth in the BC Mile when trained by John Sadler.
"The Woodward and the Forego are very attractive races, and Sidney’s Candy is a horse who is so good at all these things,” Pletcher said. “But we felt the seven-eighths was a little more comfortable distance than the 1 1/8 miles.”
Sidney’s Candy, who finished second in a pair of graded races at Hollywood Park earlier this year for Sadler, has won six graded stakes including the 2010 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and earned more than $1 million from his 14 lifetime starts. He was bred in California by his former owners, Jenny and Sidney Craig.
Pletcher has assigned John Velazquez to ride Sidney’s Candy, the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. They will break from post 2.
The other grade I winner in the field is Charles Fipke’s Jersey Town. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown closed out his 2010 season with a 34-1 upset victory in the Hill ‘N’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct, which is his lone stakes success in seven tries. After eight months off, Jersey Town (6-1) returned July 31 to make his season debut in the six-furlong Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth Park, where he finished second by four lengths. He has worked three times at Saratoga for Barclay Tagg since that effort. Cornelio Velasquez will have the mount.
“Seven furlongs is probably his best distance,” said Tagg. “If I had a gun to my head, I’d probably say it’s his best distance, but he did win a grade I at a mile.”
Looking for his second stakes win of the Saratoga meet is Jackson Bend, who snapped a 12-race losing streak in the July 22 James Marvin Stakes, which was also at seven furlongs. The 4-year-old Hear No Evil colt defeated a solid lineup that day, including runner-up Hamazing Destiny who is also back for the Forego.
Jackson Bend, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, was cutting back to a sprint distance for the first time since the summer of 2009 in the James Marvin, which he won by 2 1/2 lengths. The Nick Zito trainee seeks his first graded stakes win in his 10th try. He has been graded stakes placed six times and has earned more than $900,000 in 19 starts for Robert LaPenta and breeder Fred Brei. Jackson Bend drew post 1 with Corey Nakatani aboard.
“It was a really good thing when he won because it showed he’s still Jackson Bend,” said Zito. “He needed to get some sort of spark going, which he did. It sets him up well because he certainly qualifies to be in this race. He was a top horse last year. We’re looking forward to Saturday, and hopefully he’ll get his star.”
A couple of other top contenders include seven-furlong specialist Aikenite and millionaire Regal Ransom. Aikenite, also trained by Pletcher for Dogwood Stable, has won three times at the distance including the April 16 Commonwealth (gr. II) at Keeneland and May 7 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II). He was fifth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths, last out in the James Marvin.
“Aikenite’s last race was good; it was just such a tough race,” said Pletcher. “He probably ended up a little closer to the pace than he ideally wanted. He still ran a very credible race.”
Godolphin Racing’s Regal Ransom has collected two of his four lifetime victories at Saratoga. He broke his maiden at the Spa in his debut in 2008 and won a two-turn allowance race there last summer. The 5-year-old Distorted Humor colt is winless in three starts this year but has finished second twice in stakes company. Last out, he finished 11th in the 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill when setting the pace and fading badly. The two-time group/graded stakes winner will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez for Saeed bin Suroor.
$250,000 Forego (gr. I, Race 9, 5:12 p.m.), 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Jackson Bend (FL), C S Nakatani, 124, N P Zito, 5-2
2. Sidney's Candy (KY), J R Velazquez, 124, T A Pletcher, 4-1
3. Golddigger's Boy (PA), S Elliott, 124, R Preciado, 15-1
4. Jersey Town (KY), C H Velasquez, 124, B Tagg, 6-1
5. Hamazing Destiny (KY), R Albarado, 124, D W Lukas, 5-1
6. Escrow Kid (FL), O Castillo, 124, C Doran, 15-1
7. Aikenite (FL), J Castellano, 124, T A Pletcher, 5-1
8. Regal Ransom (KY), R A Dominguez, 124, S bin Suroor, 6-1
9. Rule by Night (KY), D Cohen, 124, S M Asmussen, 15-1