Kentucky Derby pace setter Sidney's Candy has already demonstrated that he can run on dirt and synthetic tracks, but he may be his best on grass. On Saturday at Del Mar set a turf course record as he dominated the rest of the field in the 1 1/16 mile Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap. It was his first career race on turf, and his sizzling performance which produced a 102 Beyer Speed Figure suggests that his immediate future will be on grass. The previous turf course record course record was set by Mea Domina on September 2, 2006
Although Sidney's Candy has a pedigree that suggests a good turf horse, no one expected such a strong effort this first time out. Sidney's Candy is by Candy Ride-who won stakes races on both turf and dirt--and his dam, Fair Exchange, is by Storm Cat out of the mare Exchange, a top-class grass runner. Trainer John Sadler talked about his horse's performance:
"He worked on [grass] really well last week. We're thrilled with his performance."
"I knew he was going to take care of the other horse, I was just a little worried that he might set it up for a closer. He's a very good horse and a unique horse in that he set a track record [for 5 1/2 furlongs] as a two-year-old on the Polytrack [surface at Del Mar] and then again at three 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 three-year-olds around."
Sidney's Candy and Mascias shot from the gate to set a torrid pace that none of the other entrants could match. By the midway point of the race the two front runners held an 11 or 12 length advantage over the rest of the field. Jockey Joel Rosario went straight to the front along the inside rail with Mascias alongside, clocking a quarter-mile in: 23.10 and a half-mile in: 45.81. When the pair hit the far turn, Mascias started to fade as Sidney's Candy pulled away. He opened a thirteen length advantage in the upper stretch and went on to win by 5 lengths. Kid Edward came in second with Alphie's Bet in third.
Sidney's Candy won three consecutive races earlier in the season, including the Santa Anita Derby. This hot streak made him one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby despite having previously never raced on dirt. He started fast and set the early pace but faded badly, finishing 17th. He recovered nicely in his only post Derby start before Saturday's race, finishing second in the July Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.
Sadler has already confirmed that Sidney's Candy won't race again at Del Mar Derby this season, meaning the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on September 25 and/or the Oak Tree Mile in October the most likely next starts.
Ross Everett is a widely published freelance writer and a noted authority on sports betting
and harness racing. He contributes NFL football betting free picks
for a number of websites. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with three Jack Russell Terriers and a pot bellied pig.