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Ryehill Dancer catches Sidney's Candy late to win the American Handicap.
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Ryehill Dreamer Nips 'Candy in American 'Cap

Marsha Naify's Irish-bred gelding registers first stakes win in United States.

Tracking a hot pace for jockey Joe Talamo, Ryehill Dreamer shot home to win the $150,000 American Handicap (gr. IIT) by a whisker over Sidney's Candy on the Hollywood Park turf May 28 (VIDEO).

Ryehill Dreamer, a 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding, picked up his first stakes win in the United States. He was a listed stakes winner at Leopardstown as a 2-year-old in 2008.

Even-money pick Sidney's Candy had put away pace rival Liberian Freighter in the lane and appeared headed for victory under Joel Rosario with a two-length lead mid-stretch. But Ryhill Dreamer, under right-handed urging from Talamo, gradually cut into the margin and pipped the favorite by a short nose at the wire in an 8-1 surprise.

The final time for the American, which was shortened to one mile from nine furlongs for the first time, was a swift 1:33.55 over firm ground.

Julio Canani trains the winner for Marsha Naify. It was the second win in the American for Canani, who also won it in 2004 with Bayamo for Prestonwood Farm. By Catcher In The Rye out of the Rainbows for Life mare No Way, the bay was bred by Kilfrush Stud.

The American had previously been run as part of Hollywood's Independence Day program but was moved up on the schedule this year.

Sidney's Candy broke on the lead and pulled Rosario away on a quick tempo with Liberian Freighter about a length behind, allowing Talamo to drop Ryehill Dreamer into a perfect tracking spot third while racing in front of second choice The Usual Q. T. Fractions were :23.51, :46.12, and 1:09.23 before Sidney's Candy was able to inch away from Liberian Freighter and open a clear advantage with a furlong to run.

Ryehill Dreamer was picking it up through the lane to draw alongside close to home. But the game Sidney's Candy was determined as usual and the race came down to the final bob with Ryehill Dreamer prevailing. It was 4 1/2 lengths back to third-place finisher The Usual Q. T., with Leroy's Dynameaux rallying from the back of the pack for fourth, 6 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

“I was so glad that other horse (Liberian Freighter) went with Sidney’s Candy,’’ said Talamo, who rode Ryehill Dreamer for the first time. “We thought on paper it would be like that, but you never know until it actually happens. It set up great for him today and Julio has done a great job getting him to relax. In his earlier races he would get kind of rank the first part, but he relaxed so nice for me today.’’

Despite being second to Liberian Freighter by just a half-length in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) at 1 1/16 miles over the course April 24, Ryehill Dreamer paid a generous $19.60, $6.60, and $3.20. He carried 116 pounds as the fourth choice.

Ryehill Dreamer earned $90,000 for his fifth win in 12 lifetime starts, boosting his total bankroll to $296,807. His last victory came in a high-priced allowance tilt by 4 1/2 lengths on the Santa Anita turf March 11. He has now won three of seven races in Southern California.

“It took a lot of patience with this horse,’’ said Canani, who had been treated recently for a detached retina. “He has his issues, but when he was down at San Luis Rey, (trainer) Carlos (Lopez) took his time with him. When he came back to me, he was ready to do something."

Canani said he is considering the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) July 2 next for Ryehill Dreamer.

Jenny Craig's homebred Sidney's Candy was switching back to the turf for trainer John Sadler after beginning his year with a runner-up finish in the Mervy LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) on Hollywood's Cushion Track May 7. Last year's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner returned $3.20 and $2.10 and completed a $55.60 exacta.

The Usual Q. T., a close third last time in the Inglewood, didn't provide his usual late kick and paid $2.20 to show.

Leroy's Dynameaux was followed by Liberian Freighter and Goldwaki. Two scratches, outsiders Norvsky and Smokey Lonesome, reduced the field to six.