Unbeaten Twirling Candy attempts to become the third 3-year-old in the past four years to win the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 2, which would earn the fast-developing colt a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
The lightly raced son of Candy Ride will be seeking his fifth consecutive victory for owner/breeder Jenny Craig and trainer John Sadler. He will be facing older rivals for the first time. Among them are Pacific Classic (gr. I) repeat winner Richard's Kid and Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) victor Awesome Gem.
The 1 1/8-mile Goodwood is the last of four grade I stakes on Oak Tree's Hollywood Park program, and has a 5:20 p.m. (PDT) post. All four stakes are "Win and You're In" challenge races for this year's Breeders' Cup.
Twirling Candy is coming off a somewhat controversial, although one-sided victory in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), his graded stakes debut Sept. 5 on turf. He drifted out leaving the clubhouse turn and ducked out badly early on the backstretch while leading and interfered with another horse. The 1-5 favorite exploded through the stretch run to win easily by 3 1/4 lengths and stewards let the result stand.
Sadler, during a press conference Sept. 28, said he is not concerned that that Twirling Candy might repeat his antics.
"No I'm not," he said. "We're putting him back on the synthetic because the pace will be faster. He is a horse that gets a little bored; last time it was a very small field and there wasn't any real pace. And that's the only time he has done something like that.
"So, I had Mike Smith work on him (Sept. 26); he went very well. And he's training really good for this race."
Smith will take the Goodwood mount on Twirling Candy for Joel Rosario, who has another engagement out of town. Twirling Candy began his career with two wins on Hollywood's Cushion Track before winning back-to-back stakes on the turf at Del Mar. At Hollywood, he defeated maidens in his debut Nov. 14, then made his first start as a 3-year-old with a stylish 7 ¾-length win in an optional claimer going 6 ½ furlongs May 29. He has earned $294,900 in his brief career.
Sadler has been effusive in his praise of Twirling Candy's abilities and feels the Goodwood is the measuring stick for a possible Breeders' Cup Classic appearance Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
"Absolutely, because we're going to go against older horses," he explained. "We're going to go back to the synthetic because (our) other (top) horse, Sidney's Candy, is going to run the Oak Tree Mile (gr. IIT) on the turf. So this horse can run on both surfaces and we think synthetic is going to be good for him.
"I don't want to talk too much about the Breeders' Cup until we get through this one on Saturday. But that (the Breeders' Cup Classic) is definitely out there for him."
Sophomores Tiago (2007) and Gitano Hernando (2009) have won the Goodwood in the past three renewals.
A little more than one month removed from consecutive triumphs in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, Richard’s Kid will make only his second start at Hollywood Park.
Owned by Zabeel Racing International Corporation and trained by Baffert, the 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid horse was third in the Hollywood Gold Cup July 10.
The Maryland bred has eight wins in 26 races and has banked $1,566,370. Baffert’s only prior Goodwood victory came with Silver Charm in 1998.
The field also includes Awesome Gem, the upset winner of this year’s Hollywood Gold Cup who was steadied in the homestretch of the Pacific Classic and finished last of 10. Trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds, the 7-year-old Awesome Again gelding has earned $2,274,682 in his career while compiling a 7-13-4 mark in 37 races. He won the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) by a half-length over heavily favored Rail Trip.
B. Wayne Hughes' Crown of Thorns, second by a nose in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), stretches out off his runner-up effort in the Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar Aug. 28. That was his only start so far in 2010.
Crown of Thorns is aiming for longer distances this fall.
“His race in the Pat O’Brien looked like he wants to go farther,” said trainer Richard Mandella.
Crown of Thorns won the Robert Lewis Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles as a 3-year-old in 2008 before going to the sidelines for more than a year.
Pacific Classic runner-up Crowded House has only won two of 15 races but has earned $989,452. The British-bred 4-year-old Rainbow Quest colt is owned by a partnership that includes Carmen Burrell and J. Paul Reddam and is trained by Ben Cecil. Crowded House makes a quick turnaround after a fourth-place finish in the Woodbine Mile (Can-I) Sept. 19.
Dakota Phone, who worked four furlongs in :48 4/5 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer Sept. 29, won the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar July 31 and has been third or better in his last four starts for owners John Carver, Halo Farms, and George Todaro. The 5-year-old Zavata gelding has won five of 30 starts and banked $703,810.
Rounding out the field is Informed, whose three victories at Hollywood Park included the 2009 Californian (gr. II). He also won the San Diego last year but has raced just once in 2010 for trainer Doug O'Neill.
$250,000 Goodwood Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Informed (KY), J Talamo, 124, D F O'Neill
2. Crown of Thorns (FL), R Bejarano, 124, R E Mandella
3. Dakota Phone (KY), P A Valenzuela, 124, J Hollendorfer
4. Crowded House (GB), C S Nakatani, 124, B D Cecil
5. Twirling Candy (KY), M E Smith, 121, J W Sadler
6. Awesome Gem (KY), D R Flores, 124, C Dollase
7. Richard's Kid (MD), A Quinonez, 124, B Baffert