Making his first start on turf, Sidney's Candy turned in a smashing performance in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO), demolishing seven 3-year-old rivals in a course record time at Del Mar Aug. 14.
This was the Sidney's Candy people expected to see after his dominating front-running performance in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) last spring, before a dull effort in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) took much of the luster off the gorgeous son of Candy Ride . It looks like his immediate future will be on the grass.
After setting blazing fractions under pressure from the speedy Macias, Sidney's Candy left that one behind at the five-sixteenth pole and effortlessly drew away from the rest. He covered the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:39.52, breaking the course record set by Mea Domina of 1:39.67 Sept. 2, 2006. The winning margin was 5 1/2 lengths.
Sidney's Candy, the 7-5 favorite, carried top weight of 121 pounds and gave trainer John Sadler and local owner/breeder Jenny Craig their first La Jolla win. Sidney's Candy, named for Mrs. Craig's late husband, becomes the likely favorite for the $300,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) at nine furlongs Sept. 5, if he goes.
"We'll see how he comes out of it before we go forward with him," Sadler said. "And we have Twirling Candy (winner of the Oceanside Stakes), too. We'll have a lot of choices. I think I'll have the favorite in the Del Mar Derby."
Sadler had been perplexed by Sidney's Candy's last race, a second-place finish at 1-5 odds in the Swaps Stakes (gr. II) when the colt was caught late by the unheralded Skipshot on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track July 17. But that was his first race since the Kentucky Derby debacle May 1, when he finished 17th after all kinds of trouble, and he may have just needed the race. Whatever the reason, Sadler took his charge's rebound in stride, saying he expected a big effort in the La Jolla.
"You don't know he's going to have a track record," Sadler told TVG after the race. "But he had a great work over the track and he's a top horse. So we're thrilled with his performance."
This was Sidney's Candy's second record-breaking performance at Del Mar. Last year, as a 2-year-old, he set a main track (Polytrack) record of 1:02.71 for 5 1/2 furlongs.
Sidney's Candy was expected to sit off the speedball Macias early, but Sidney's Candy would have none of it, pulling jockey Joel Rosario to the front. They ran at breakneck speed for the distance, clicking off quarter-mile fractions of :23.10, :45.81, and 1:08.91 as the rest of the field dropped off by some 15 lengths and more. As the leaders approached the final turn, Sidney's Candy inched away from Macias and he widened his advantage on the bend until he was all alone coming into the stretch.
Rosario, riding Sidney's Candy for the first time after replacing the injured Joe Talamo, had no threats to be concerned with at that point, but he allowed his mount to open up in upper stretch, just in case. They led by 13 lengths at the eighth pole and Sidney's Candy came home under a strong hand ride.
"He broke so sharp and he just wanted to go," Rosario said. "So I let him go. I knew we were going fast, but he's such a good horse he can do that. When we turned for home, I opened up with him. I didn't want to be caught. He just kept on going and he wasn't that tired at the end. He's a really nice horse."
"I knew he was going to take care of the other horse (Macias), I was just a little worried that he might set it up for a closer," Sadler said. "He's a very good horse and a unique horse in that he set a track record as a 2-year-old on the Polytrack and then again at 3 on the grass. He's a very good horse; a little unlucky in a couple of races and things didn't go right for him in Kentucky, but he's one of the best 3-year-olds around. This was a very fast race today."
The Gould Family Trust's Kid Edward, an Irish-bred son of Singspiel making his stakes debut for trainer James Cassidy off back-to-back wins, closed much ground for jockey David Flores in the lane. He edged Alphie's Bet and Mike Smith for second by a half-length.
Sidney's Candy improved his career mark to 5-2-0 in nine starts and boosted his earnings to $803,560 with the winner's share of $90,000.
Bred by the Craigs in Kentucky, the chestnut colt is out of Fair Exchange, by Storm Cat.
He paid $4.80, $3.40, and $3, and topped a $24.40 exacta. Second choice Kid Edward returned $3.40 and $3.40. Grade III winner Alphie's Bet was $5.20 to show.
It was 2 1/4 lengths to Summer Movie in fourth. He was followed by Face and an Ace, Leroy's Dynameaux, Golden Itiz, and Macias.