Dalmore wins the 2016 Affirmed Stakes.

Dalmore wins the 2016 Affirmed Stakes.

Benoit Photo

Dalmore Upsets Danzing Candy in Affirmed

Colonel John colt has been rapidly improving in Southern California.

Dalmore continued his rapid improvement on the Southern California circuit July 2 with an upset of odds-on favorite Danzing Candy in the $100,000 Affirmed Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Park

Video: Affirmed S. (G3)

Owned by Big Chief Racing, Rocker O Ranch, and trainer Keith Desormeaux, the Colonel John colt took a step forward to win the second race of his career May 29 in a Santa Anita allowance, then improved again Saturday, defeating grade II winner and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) pacesetter Danzing Candy  by a half-length.

After stalking the pace in third under jockey Kent Desormeaux, Dalmore loomed three wide in the final turn of the 1 1/16-mile test and then outdueled Danzing Candy and jockey Rafael Bejarano in the stretch. The top two finishers finished 8 1/2 lengths clear of Prince of Arabia.

"The most impressive part was that half-mile move to the quarter pole," Kent Desormeaux said. "That's all him. I never asked him. I hadn't even used my horse and Rafael was driving. To me, I knew we had (him)."

With Bejarano aboard for the first time in his first start for trainer Bob Baffert, Danzing Candy showed a new dimension, tracking longshot pacesetter Beaumarchais in second with fractions of :23.26 and :46 flat through a half-mile. The Twirling Candy  colt put a head in front through six furlongs in 1:10.02, but Dalmore pulled even at the top of the stretch and battled to the wire to finish off the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.84.

"I thought he merited a chance today and he proved me right," Keith Desormeaux said of the colt's first stakes score. "It's been a nice three-race series with this horse. Each race (he's won), he's had a perfect trip. I think that's attributed not only to Kent's prowess but also the fact that he's had small fields and it's always ended up a decent pace."

The winner paid $9.20, $2.60, and $2.10 across the board. Danzing Candy, off at 1-5, brought $2.10 to place and show, and Prince of Arabia paid $2.40 to show.

Beaumarchais tired to finish fourth, followed by Curlin Rules to complete the order of finish.

Bred in Florida by Sally Andersen out of the Silver Deputy mare Silver Breeze, Dalmore now has 3-3-0 record from 11 starts with $187,302 in earnings.