The margin may have only been a neck over challenger Ransom the Moon, but the context of Danzing Candy's win in the seven-furlong test may put his performance at or near the top of his résumé.
The 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt broke best in the five-horse field, but was soon after hounded by Phil D'Amato-trained Coastline. The first quarter went in :22.15 as Ransom the Moon, another D'Amato trainee, loomed in third. The half went in :44.26 as Coastline moved alongside, and in the turn Ransom the Moon advanced three-wide on the outside.
"I jumped really well and took advantage of it today," said winning jockey Mike Smith. "I thought I'd play it off the break. I thought that if I jumped well—well, I knew they would press me—but at least I would have the jump on them. ... If they were going to make him run fast, well, that's what he does best, isn't it?"
The top pair turned for home without any serious challengers behind, and dueled to the wire, but Ransom the Moon could never get a head in front. Danzing Candy continued to power toward the wire, ran six furlongs in 1:08.38, and finished off the seven furlongs in 1:21.17. Kobe's Back closed from a far-back last early to finish third, another 6 1/2 lengths back.
"We had a good trip," said Ransom the Moon's jockey, Flavien Prat. "This might be a little too far for my horse, but he tried very hard. Around the turn, I thought I had him, but he fought back and we couldn't quite catch him."
It was the third straight win for Danzing Candy, following a conditional allowance score at a mile May 5 at Santa Anita and a dominant victory over a sloppy track in the Lone Star Park Handicap (G3). It was the colt's first one-turn dirt race since he broke his maiden as a juvenile for trainer Cliff Sise in December of 2015.
Since the start of 2017, Baffert has won 15 graded/group stakes with horses 4-years-old or older.
"The older they get, the better they get," said Baffert, who indicated Danzing Candy may head to the Aug. 26 Pat O'Brien (G2) at Del Mar for his next start. "He was always a good horse last year and I'm just fortunate to have him."
Danzing Candy now has a 6-1-1 record from 11 starts, with earnings of $700,930. He was bred in Kentucky by co-owner Halo Farms, out of the Songandaprayer mare Talkin and Singing.