Undefeated Twirling Candy , as expected, easily won the $300,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) as the 1-5 favorite, but his backstretch antics in the Sept. 5 turf event caused some controversy (VIDEO).
With Joel Rosario aboard, Twirling Candy took the early lead along the inside in the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds. As he was leaving the clubhouse turn he drifted a bit and then ducked out severely early on the backstretch, forcing the tracking Summer Movie to veer out and steady.
Rosario was able to get Twirling Candy back under control on the backstretch with a tight hold on his left rein and the winner led the recovered Summer Movie into the turn, where he repulsed his challenger to open a clear lead in the stretch. Ahead by two lengths mid-stretch, Twirling Candy came home under a hand ride by 3 1/4.
Stewards conducted an inquiry into the incident but decided to make no change in the order of finish, reasoning that it had no bearing on the outcome of the race. The decision was not well received by some in the Del Mar crowd, who booed and hollered at Rosario and trainer John Sadler in the winner's circle.
"He must have seen something inside him," Rosario said. "All of a sudden he went outside. I did the best I could to get him back. I don't think it (the swerving incident coming into the backstretch) caused that much trouble. I didn't have any trouble with the saddle or the reins. He did it himself.
"I've worked him in the morning and he sometimes ducks away from things. He's so talented. He's such a good colt. Once I got him going back right he relaxed and just went on about it."
Sadler said that Twirling Candy is still green.
"It was only his fourth start and he's big and headstrong," Sadler said. "He'll get better and better against better horses. This is one of the best horses in the country; he's so gifted. He's better when there are horses around him. When he's by himself out there he does a lot of looking around."
Sadler said he wants to put Twirling Candy back on a synthetic track for the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) during the Oak Tree meet Oct. 2 at Hollywood Park.
Jenny Craig's homebred Twirling Candy earned $180,000 for his first graded stakes win, upping his career total to $294,900. He was coming off a 2 1/4-length win in the opening-day Oceanside Stakes at one mile. The imposing dark bay or brown colt is by Candy Ride out of the Chester House mare House of Danzing.
Jairzihno, the longest shot in the six-horse field at 33-1, stalked the pace and held the second spot for Patrick Valenzuela by a half-length over 21-1 shot Royal F J, ridden by Rafael Bejarano. Fantastic Pick was a half-length farther back in fourth, followed by Kid Edward. Summer Movie dropped back in the stretch and finished last.
Quarter-mile fractions for the first six furlongs were :23.69, :47.57 and 1:12.04. Twirling Candy reached the mile mark in 1:35.67 and came home in 1:46.96.
Addressing the ruling, steward Scott Chaney said there may have been interference … "and I suppose the dramatic nature of it probably led people to think that there might be some change. But interference in and of itself doesn’t lead to an automatic disqualification. Several factors went into leaving the horse alone.
"First of all, it happened five-eighths of a mile from the wire, which makes a disqualification less likely. Number two, (Summer Movie) was beaten 6 3/4 lengths for fifth, so it would be very speculative to say that he lost the 6 3/4 lengths for fifth ... on the backside. Lastly, in our opinion it would have been an unjust result to disqualify a horse that was much the best in order to help a horse that finished out of any monetary placing."
Victor Espinoza, who rode Summer Movie, was unhappy with the stewards' decision.
"He took me way out," said Espinoza. "We almost went down. My horse crossed legs with him and I had to stop riding. I was lucky I didn't go down. I think my horse might have gotten hurt. I hope he didn't, but he might have."
Twirling Candy paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10 and toped a $36 exacta. British-bred Jairzihno, who has lost nine consecutive races since transferring to the United States for the 2010 season, returned $10 and $5.40. Royal F J, who came into the race off a maiden victory in his 11th start, was $4.80 to show.