Danzing Candy, considered one of the West Coast's top 3-year-olds earlier this year, looms a standout as he makes his first start for trainer Bob Baffert in Saturday's Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth. Originally trained by Clifford Sise, the Kentucky-bred colt by Twirling Candy was an impressive gate to wire winner of the Grade II San Felipe Stakes three starts back and has been idle since well beaten in the Kentucky Derby May 7.
With Rafael Bejarano engaged to ride for the first time, he'll face four rival sophomores in the race named in honor of Harbor View Farm's homebred 1978 Santa Anita Derby and Triple Crown winner who was conditioned by the late Hall of Famer Lazaro Barrera.
DANZING CANDY: Bred by Ted Aroney's Halo Farms, he's owned by Halo Farms and Mr. and Mrs. Jim Bashor. Following his two length win in the 1 1/16 miles San Felipe, Danzing Candy went to the lead in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9, but tired badly over a sloppy surface and was fourth, beaten 13 ¼ lengths by eventual Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator. Transferred to Baffert following his 20 length defeat in the Kentucky Derby, Danzing Candy, who possesses tremendous natural speed, has trained exceptionally well here at Santa Anita in preparation for the Affirmed. Look for him to go to the front and pose an elusive target on Saturday. The leading money earner in the Affirmed lineup, he's banked $358,650 and has three wins from six starts.
DALMORE: A sharp 1 ½ length allowance winner going 1 1/16 miles here on May 29, Dalmore earned a career best 91 Beyer Speed figure and will hope to be running late for the Brothers Desormeaux, trainer Keith and jockey Kent. Last by a distance in the Grade I, 1 1/8 miles Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct three starts back on April 9, the Florida-bred colt by Colonel John was subsequently fifth, beaten eight lengths by speedy Uncle Lino in the 1 1/16 miles California Chrome Stakes at Los Alamitos April 30. Owned by Big Chief Racing, LLC, Rocker O Ranch, LLC and Keith Desormeaux, Dalmore is the most seasoned horse in the Affirmed field, as he has two wins and three seconds from 10 starts.
CURLIN RULES: Lightly raced, this Triple Crown nominated son of Curlin will hope to hit the board in a field that appears cast in the long shadow of the favorite. Trained by John Sadler and owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Curlin Rules was a gate to wire maiden winner here in his second career start going a mile and a sixteenth four starts back on Feb. 21. Winless in three starts since, he comes off a third place run to Dalmore in a first condition allowance on May 29. Although he broke his maiden on the lead, that position figures to be taken by Danzing Candy, so look for Curlin Rules to employ stalking tactics. He has one win and two thirds from five starts.
THE GRADE III AFFIRMED STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
1. Curlin Rules—Victor Espinoza—120
2. Dalmore—Kent Desormeaux—120
3. Beaumarchais—Joe Talamo—120
4. Prince of Arabia—Santiago Gonzalez—120
5. Danzing Candy—Rafael Bejarano–124
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