Although there were some anxious moments in his first start
without blinkers, heavily-favored Twirling Candy got the job done in the
$150,000 Californian Stakes Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Wrangled off the pace immediately by jockey Joel Rosario,
the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride seemed to resent the tactics, dropping back
almost to last in the field of seven about midway through the Grade II as
longshot Victory Pete set a pokey pace.
Able to find a seam between horses early in the stretch, the
2-5 choice collared the leaders inside the final sixteenth of a mile and was
pulling away at the finish.
Ending a 0-for-24 stakes drought for trainer John Sadler
that extended to Cozi Rosie’s victory in the Buena Vista Feb. 21 at Santa
Anita, Twirling Candy won for the seventh time in 10 starts for breeder Jenny
Craig, who owns the dark bay in partnership with William S. Farish and Marty
Out of the Chester House mare House of Danzing, Twirling
Candy increased his earnings to $684,900. It was his third win in four starts
over Cushion Track, but his first locally around two turns.
Primarily because of the slow early fractions (24.60, 49.49
and 1:14.60 for the first three-quarters of a mile), the final time of 1:50 was
the slowest in 30 runnings of the Californian at nine furlongs.
In his first race since he was beaten by a nose at nearly
26-1 in the Santa Anita Handicap March 5, Setsuko was again the runner-up,
finishing 1 ½ lengths behind Twirling Candy.
The 4-1 second choice finished a nose in front of Aggie
Engineer, who was seeking his fourth win over the Hollywood Park main track. A
nose back in fourth was Soul Candy.
Completing the order of finish were Spurrier, Honour the
Deputy and Victory Pete. Gladding, also trained by Sadler, was scratched
earlier in the day.
Favored in all but two of his races, Twirling Candy paid
$2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. Setsuko returned $2.80 and $2.60. The show price on
Aggie Engineer was $3.60.
“He’s a real good horse,’’ said Rosario after his meet-high
ninth stakes victory. “They were going too slow up front. I was waiting a
little on the backside and he was a little farther behind than I thought he’d
“There were horses in front of me and I was between horses.
They were going slow and I was able to get him in behind horses, so that was
good. The rest of the riders knew my horse was the horse to beat and they were
trying to keep him down in there.
“He was very relaxed without the blinkers. On the turn, I
was taking my time getting him to the outside. He can do anything. When he sees
horses in front of him he just goes and gets them.’’
After his first win in the Californian, Sadler indicated
Twirling Candy is likely to make his next start in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold
Cup July 9. If successful in the Grade I, Twirling Candy would become the first
horse to win the Californian and the Gold Cup in the same year since Lava Man
“We took the blinkers off because we wanted to see him
relax,’’ said Sadler. “He trains without the blinkers in the morning. It was a
little puzzling to see him that far back, but then they kind of wanted to box
him in, you know, which is race riding. Joel just stayed nice and cool. I’m
happy to win this one today and look down the road.’’
Siempre Esperanza, who won the fourth race as a 37-1 shot in
her debut, keyed the third largest superfecta payoff – based on a $1 wager - in
Hollywood Park history Saturday.
Trained by Paul Aguirre for owners Jon Stein and Kurt Unger,
the 3-year-old Forest Grove filly, who was ridden by Edwin Maldonado-Alicea,
was followed home by 27-1 outsider Rags for Ben, 6-1 shot Our Lady Gaga and
Girls Lacrosse, the longest price in the field of 14 at 115-1. The return was
$144,481.50. The biggest $1 superfecta payoff at Hollywood Park
was $215,845.40 in the sixth race July 7, 2006.
There were seven 10 cent tickets with the right combination
(14-8-3-12) Saturday. Each paid $14,448.
There were two winning tickets in the Pick 6, each worth
$518,864.80. An additional $1,356,444 was wagered Saturday in pursuit of a
double carryover of $312,479.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The main event on the nine race program is the $70,000
Redondo Beach Stakes, an ungraded race for older fillies and mares at one mile on