The long waited return of Capt. Candyman Can is almost upon us. Weeble, as he is affectionately known, is entered in Saturday’s Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, where a field of nine others are set to face the returning grade one winner. His main competition looks to be See I A who has won five straight including the recent Pelican Stakes, but if the Candyman is the same horse we saw back in 2009, See I A would need to join forces with the Eff B I to have any chance.
Last seen a full 15 months ago, he was part of the wide open field assembled for the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Despite being younger than most of his foes that day, the Candyman was well respected at 7-1. His participation in the big race held a little extra sentiment, as it came only days after the death of Dr. Joseph Rauch, his co-owner and co-breeder. Unfortunately, there would be no fairy tale story for Weeble that day, as his normal powerful closing kick was not quite up to snuff on the old Pro-Ride surface of Santa Anita Park. Even though he did not run his best, he was beaten only 3 ½ lengths. Now he is back, and there is good reason to have high hopes for a solid return.
Last Fall when I stopped by Ian Wilkes barn during the Breeders’ Cup, he told me Capt. Candyman Can was doing very well in his recovery from a injury that caused him to miss the entire 2010 season. Wilkes went as far as to say he fully expected that the gelded son of Candy Ride would be representing his barn in the 2011 BC Sprint. I am always cautious when waiting on a horse who has been away from the races for so long, but you could just see the twinkle in his trainer’s eye as he spoke about the future of the good Captain.
Overall the Candyman has won half of his 12 starts, most of them coming in graded stakes competition. Among his wins include the Matt Winn and Iroquois at Churchill Downs, as well as the Bay Shore, Hutcheson, and the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes. It should be noted in that grade one win, Capt. Candyman Can was elevated to the victory after Vineyard Haven’s number came down. It was a decision that needed to be made though, as Weeble likely would have reversed the narrow loss if the other horse had not came out on him in the finishing stages of the seven furlong affair.
The big question Saturday is, can the now five-year-old Captain be the same horse many grew to love two seasons ago? Signs are promising. He has been working strongly at Palm Meadows Training center, including firing a couple of five furlong bullets recently, and we already know how what his trainer thinks. Weeble is an easy horse to root for, I am looking forward to see if he can regain his position as one of the very best sprinters in America.
Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese