Soul Candy and Rafael Bejarano take the California Cup Classic.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Soul Candy and Rafael Bejarano take the California Cup Classic.
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Soul Candy Sweetens California Cup Classic

Paddy Gallagher trainee scores first stakes win in synthetic track debut.

Soul Candy succeeded in his first synthetic start when he ran down favored Enriched in deep stretch to win the $150,000 California Cup Classic (VIDEO) going away by 1 1/4 lengths Oct. 30 at Hollywood Park.

Rafael Bejarano rode Soul Candy, who was making his first start since finishing fifth in the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 29, to victory for trainer Paddy Gallagher. The winner is owned by E Z Eight Racing Stable and Madera Thoroughbreds, which bred him. All nine of Soul Candy's prior starts were on turf.

“It’s nice to run in these Cal-bred stakes,’’ said Gallagher, who also won the 2005 Classic with McCann's Mojave. “(Soul Candy) will be more of a distance horse. He keeps going steady. He doesn’t have a big turn of foot; he just stays steady and that helped today. It was a nice pace and that helped him.’’

The Classic was the featured event on a 10-race Oak Tree program, including seven stakes worth $700,000, geared entirely for state-bred Thoroughbreds. California Cup, in its 21st season, was held for the first time at Hollywood Park.

Last early, Soul Candy charged four wide down the stretch to pass the tiring Enriched, the 7-5 favorite in the field of eight who had taken the lead for jockey Joel Rosario leaving the final turn. Unusual Suspect, maneuvering between horses in the lane with Patrick Valenzuela aboard, got up for second by a nose at the wire. The stalking Cayambe finished fourth.

The final time for the 1 1/8-mile event was 1:48.94 over Cushion Track.

Enriched took back to second as Lodi Red sped to the front and led by as many as two lengths while carving reasonable fractions of :23.69, :48.16, and 1:11.96. Enriched challenged rounding the final bend to get the lead and Cayambe tracked the favorite into the lane. Enriched had the clear advantage, leading by one length mid-stretch, but couldn't hold it as Unusual Suspect and the fast-closing Soul Candy responded to urging in the final furlong.

Soul Candy was coming off back-to-back victories on turf, including a one-length victory over 11 furlongs against open optional claiming company, prior to his Del Mar Handicap effort. In that race, he was beaten by three lengths by Champ Pegasus .

A 4-year-old dark by or brown gelding, Soul Candy is by Birdonthewire--Just Satisfaction, by Lil Tyler.

His first stakes was worth $90,000 and improved his career record to 4-1-0 in 10 starts with earnings of $205,300.

Soul Candy carried 118 pounds and paid $12.40, $5.80, and $3.60 and keyed a $55.20 exacta with Unusual Suspect, who returned $4.80 and $3. Enriched, a half-brother to California great Lava Man and winner of the Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) on grass Aug. 28, was $2.40 to show as the 123-pound high weight.

Cayambe was followed by Mobilized, Lodi Red, Low Gear Power, and My Boy Walsh.

Bejarano completed a stakes double a race later, getting up in the final strides with 19-10 favorite Slammer Time in the $75,000 California Cup Bob Benoit Juvenile.

In the race preceding the Classic, jockey Joe Talamo earned his fourth win on the card when he guided 8-5 favorite Bruce's Dream from off the pace to a gutsy neck victory over Colgan's Chip in the $100,000 John C. Mabee California Cup Mile.

The 4-year-old Bruce's Dream registered his sixth win in eight lifetime starts and boosted his earnings to $293,940 for owner/breeder Bruce Corwin. Mike Puype trains the gray/roan gelding by Atticus--Remember Dorothy, by Smokester.

Runner-up Colgan's Chip finished 4 1/2 lengths clear of Liberian Freighter in the field of six. The winning time was 1:34.37 over firm turf.

Talamo also won the first heat of the day, the $100,000 Donald Valpredo Cal Cup Sprint, aboard front-running Cost of Freedom, a 6 1/4-length victor as the 7-10 choice in the field of five.

The grade I winner is trained by John Sadler for owners Gary and  Cecil Barber. Harris Farms bred the 7-year-old gelding who is by Cee's Tizzy--Freedom Dance, by Moscow Ballet. Cost of Freedom won for the ninth time in 19 starts and increased his earnings to $752,263.

Runaway Bandido headed A Lil Dumaani for second. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:08.58 over Cushion Track.

Talamo also won two maiden races on the card.

La Nez, ridden by Victor Espinoza, rallied in the stretch to capture the $100,000 John Deere California Cup Distaff by 1 3/4 lengths over Perfect Vintage. U R All That I Am, the 7-5 pick in the field of eight, finished a neck back in third. The final time for the six-furlong Cushion Track test was 1:09.47.

Eric Kruljac trains La Nez, a 3-year-old daughter of Storm Creek--Iza Bay, by Iz a Saros, for owner Class Racing Stable and Nezi Orth Simmons. J. Chance Kruljac bred the dark bay or brown filly.

This was the second Cal Cup victory for La Nez. She won the 2009 Juvenile Fillies.

In the other $100,000 stakes on the card, Ultra Blend came from off the pace for Rosario to register a half-length victory over 17-10 choice Lady Railrider in the CTT/TOC California Matron.

Ultra Blend improved her career record to 6-4-4 in 16 starts with earnings of $317,246. Art Sherman trains the 4-year-old daughter of Richly Blended--Ankha, by Desert Classic, for owner Nels Erickson. BnD Chase Thoroughbred and Elven Adams bred the bay filly.

Lady Railrider finished 3 1/4 lengths clear of the show horse, Warren's Jitterbug. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track event was 1:43.06.