Candy Ride, the undefeated Argentine colt ridden by Julie Krone, turned in a sizzling performance while romping to a 3 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I), setting a track record Sunday at Del Mar.
The 40-year-old Krone, subbing for the injured Gary Stevens, became the first female jockey to win a $1 million race in the United States.
The final time was 1:59.11 for the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic, breaking the record of 1:59 .55 set in the 1993 Pacific Classic by Bertrando. Pacesetting Medaglia d'Oro, the 3-5 public choice ridden by Jerry Bailey, was second, finishing seven lengths ahead of 24-1 shot Fleetstreet Dancer. Milwaukee Brew, who ranged into contention on the far turn, faded to finish fourth and last.
The bubbly Krone, who returned from a broken back earlier this summer and is battling Patrick Valenzuela for the Del Mar riding title, was beside herself afterward.
"Amazing. Unbelievable. You just can't measure something like this. There is not a way to put a scale on it. It is the sweetest. I feel like I can fly. After this, I can do anything.
"How good a horse is he? Wow! That's how good a horse he is. Amazing. He is a rocketship. I still can't believe this is real. Pulling up, I asked the pony rider to pinch me. I asked the clerk of scales if this was really happening.
"I've got to thank Gary (Stevens). He was a big part of this today. He shared his knowledge of this horse with me, told me about some of his idiosyncrasies. He shares in this win.
"I've had some wonderful things happen to me in racing, but this ... wow! Tell me, is this really real?"
In the stretch, Bailey said he knew he was in too deep.
"Basically, we were second best today," he said. "Everybody wanted to find out just how good (McAnally's) horse was. Well, we found out. He's pretty damn good.
"My horse was going along easy. He was doing it on his own. I never asked him to run at all until we hit the far turn. When Candy Ride came to me and then went on by, I just called out to Julie: 'Go get 'em girl.' They were best. My horse ran a good race, but we got beat."
Owned by Sid and Jenny Craig, Del Mar residents who have long wanted to win this race, the 4-year-old Candy Ride is trained by Ron McAnally. Since he isn't nominated, the Craigs, who paid $900,000 for Candy Ride, would have to supplement him to the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) for a reported $800,000. The Breeders' Cup is at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.
McAnally, Del Mar's all-time leading conditioner picked Candy Ride out of Argentina for the Craigs in January after the bay son of Ride the Rails had won his first three races, including two group ones, by a combined 28 lengths. He has won three races in the U.S. as well.
Medaglia d'Oro was making his first start at Del Mar after shipping to California from Saratoga for trainer Bobby Frankel, who has won six previous Pacific Classics.
Undefeated this year, Medaglia d'Oro went to the lead for Bailey as Candy Ride had the ground break away under him at the start. Candy Ride quickly recovered, but Medaglia d'Oro opened a one-length lead on the backstretch after going :23 2/5 for the opening quarter mile. :46 4/5 for the half and 1:10 4/5 for six furlongs. Approaching the final turn, all four horses moved into contention as four lengths covered the field, but the two favorites soon burst away from the rest of the field.
Continuing to increase the pressure on Medaglia'd Oro into the stretch, Candy Ride edged to the lead near the top of the lane. He took command near the eighth pole and drew away from the tiring favorite.
Candy Ride was coming off of a win by three quarters of a length over Special Ring in the American Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 1/8 mile on the Hollywood Park turf on Independence Day. He had turned in a series of five torrid works prior to Sunday's race.
"Most of the good horses I've had give you a lot in the morning and this horse is like that," McAnally said. "I felt I could get out of him in the mornings whatever I needed to. I wasn't worried that I didn't have a race close to this one. I knew he was giving me what he had in the morning.
McAnally, who has 404 career wins at Del Mar, won his first Pacific Classic with his ninth starter in the 13-year-old race.
"I discussed the race with Julie this morning because I knew there would be a lot of people here and it would be hard to do before the race. I told her that I had watched Jerry Bailey in a lot of races and his style was either to go to the lead or take back a bit and come around on the outside. I told Julie if he went to lead to let him go, but not to let him get too far away. It worked out just that way.
"I'm so happy to win this race for these people, the Craigs. They have given so much to this sport and they certainly deserve this kind of win."
Stevens was in the winner's circle to congratulate Krone and the rest of Candy Ride's winning connections.
Candy Ride, who is from the dam Candy Girl, by Candy Stripes, earned $600,000 to improve his career bankroll to $749,145.
Sent off at 2-1, the winner paid $6.40 and $2.80. Medaglia d'Oro returned $2.20. The $2 exacta was worth $12.40.
Sunday's attendance of 30,458 was third largest in Pacific Classic history.