At the finish of the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita, Sparky Ville (by Candy Ride) was the upset winner, fourth choice in a field of five, but he wasn't a wild longshot, starting in the race at odds of only 7.4-1. The chestnut's form was respectable, with two victories from seven starts last year, including a success in the listed Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita.
More importantly, the gelding had been second to Instagrand (Into Mischief) in the G2 Best Pal Stakes and third behind Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) and Savagery (Bellamy Road) in the G3 Bob Hope Stakes.
Now, Sparky Ville is a graded stakes winner and will no doubt be asked to create a few sparks along the Triple Crown trail. He will not be the only son of leading sire Candy Ride vying for classic success this season because the crop's champion from last season is the unbeaten Game Winner, also a son of the Argentine champion.
Unbeaten in his homeland and in his three starts in North America, Candy Ride most famously won the 2003 Pacific Classic against Medaglia d'Oro. Sent to stud, Candy Ride has had a good and steadily rising profile among sires of significance. He had his first champion racer with Shared Belief, a second with Gun Runner in 2017, and a third last year with Game Winner.
The sire of eight stakes winners in four of his first five crops, Candy Ride has been a most successful representative of his male line, Mr. Prospector descending through Fappiano and his son Cryptoclearance. From a dozen crops of racing age, Candy Ride has 78 stakes winners to date, with Sparky Ville being the latest to add graded black type to his sire's record.
Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones LLC, Sparky Ville went to the 2017 Keeneland September sale as part of the extensive Taylor Made consignment but was passed in RNA at $170,000.
Frank Taylor of Taylor Made said, “He was a nice colt and has now won a nice race. I don't know how he ended up going RNA because he was worth the money, but it happens.”
The young prospect ended up changing hands not long after going through the ring, however, in part because of the work that Taylor Made puts into moving its horses that don't meet their reserves. Taylor said, “We work at selling RNAs a little harder than most. Every horse that goes through Taylor Made has a photo, pedigree, and video online, and every day after the auction, we go through a list of potential buyers to try to get those RNAs sold, working back from people who've shown interest in the horse while at the barn.
“Then, on the second week of the sale, we have an RNA party out at the farm and get a lot of them sold that way. Especially the first week, it's hard to get a horse [RNA] sold while you're showing the ones coming up to their sale day and sending others up to go through the ring. But we keep trying.”
From the September sale, Sparky Ville went into the hands of trainer Jeff Bonde for owner Del Secco DCS Racing, which races the progressive chestnut.
Sparky Ville races like a miler who carries his speed, typical of this sire, as well as broodmare sire Storm Cat (Storm Bird). This is a compatible match for the dam, Lorelei K, and Taylor said, “I've bred several Storm Cat mares to Candy Ride; they all seem to look good and sell good.” That was true of Sparky Ville, as well as his full sister Sweet Fortune, who sold for $250,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September sale and was a respectable winner of three races from 12 starts.
Their dam, Lorelei K, was a tremendous sales yearling at Keeneland September in 2007, bringing $1.5 million, the third-highest price among 26 Storm Cat yearlings of that sales season. Taylor noted that “Lorelei K came from a real good Melnyk family but got hurt and didn't run.
“As sometimes happens, she developed laminitis after foaling in 2017 and we lost her. Lost the foal too.”
That was a serious blow to a robust commercial operation like Aaron and Marie Jones LLC, but now the mare's last foal is a graded stakes winner, and the breeder has the honor of sending out another graded stakes winner. Fans of cute names and chestnut closers will be watching his progress over the coming months.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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