Trainer John Sadler hopes to revisit racing's candy store on Saturday, as he is expected to add the second leg of Santa Anita's prestigious Strub Series to his list of career laurels when The Great Race Place presents three graded stakes races, headed by the 59th running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds at
1 1/16 miles.
The Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs and the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles round out the stakes portion of the nine-race program Saturday, with first post at 12:30 p.m.
Sidney's Candy, whom Sadler conditions for the Craig Family Trust, which is headed by Jenny Craig, will be a heavy favorite when facing eight opponents in the San Fernando, but Sadler's approach to the three-race series for 4-year-olds is less than conventional. He took the first leg, the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes, with track-record breaker Twirling Candy. Like Sidney's Candy, Twirling Candy is a 4-year-old son of Candy Ride owned by Craig, whom she bred with her late husband Sidney.
On the same day that Twirling Candy dazzled in the Malibu, Sidney's Candy romped to a 7 π-length score in the one-mile Sir Beaufort Stakes, a Grade II event that was reduced a grade when taken off the grass following wet weather. The Sir Beaufort became the chestnut colt's fourth stakes win at Santa Anita in 2010 and his first on dirt after the track composition had been changed from a synthetic mixture.
If Sadler was thinking of a grass campaign for Sidney's Candy, the surface switch clearly proved agreeable. So now the 54-year-old winner of Santa Anita's last two training titles is faced with the sort of situation that former Dodgers baseball manager Tommy Lasorda liked to describe as “a happy dilemma.” How long does he endeavor to keep separate these two gifted sons of Candy Ride with similar front-running styles? And might there be an ultimate showdown in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 5?
Sidney's Candy provided Long Beach-born Sadler with his first Santa Anita Derby victory on April 3, 2010, when triumphant by 4 ∏ lengths while favored Lookin At Lucky wound up third. Sadler however, has yet to saddle a Big 'Cap winner.
Sidney's Candy is in position to become only the fourth Santa Anita Derby champion to win the Big 'Cap in his 4-year-old season, thus, joining General Challenge (2000), Affirmed (1979), Lucky Debonair (1966) and Hill Rise (1965).
Joel Rosario will be back aboard Sidney's Candy in the middle segment of the series for 4-year-olds that is climaxed by the Grade II, $200,000 Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 5. The speedy colt will be expected to expand on earnings of $893,560 from a 6-2-0 record in 11 career starts.
The prime danger to Sidney's Candy appears to be trainer Bob Baffert's late developing Tweebster, a winner of three straight after going winless in his first seven starts. Leading rider Rafael Bejarano will be aboard the gray ridgling owned by Kaleem S. Shah. A $300,000 sales purchase as a 2-year-old, the son of Tapit will be making his first start over a dirt surface and seeking his first stakes victory. He has earned $121,760 from a 3-3-3 record in 10 races.
Haimish Hy, the field's co-high weight with Sidney's Candy at 123 pounds, is coming off an 11-1 upset victory in the Grade I Hollywood Derby at 1 π miles over turf on Nov. 28 for trainer Art Sherman. But Haimish Hy, who has done his best racing on grass, will be making his dirt debut in the San Fernando. Joe Talamo will ride the winner of $287,900 from a 5-1-1 showing in 10 starts. He is 3-for-4 on grass.
The complete field for the San Fernando Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Tweebster, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Paris Vegas, Brice Blanc, 118; Sidney's Candy, Joel Rosario, 123; Haimish Hy, Joseph Talamo, 123; Do It All, Patrick Valenzuela, 118; Thiskyhasnolimit, Garrett Gomez, 118; Indian Firewater, Mike Smith, 118; Make Music for Me, Chantal Sutherland, 118, and Victory With Honor, Alonso Quinonez, 118.
Another Tapit offspring trained by Baffert for Shah, Uncle Sam, will be the focal point in the 11th running of the Sham, a race named for the winner of the 1973 Santa Anita Derby and which now serves to launch the Triple Crown trail at Santa Anita.
Giacomo, the eventual 2005 Kentucky Derby champion, began his 3-year-old campaign by running third in the Sham. Colonel John, the 2008 Santa Anita Derby winner, was victorious in the Sham en route to career earnings of over $1.2 million.
Four of Saturday's five Sham entrants will be in search of their first stakes victory and second win in the graded event. Uncle Sam, who will be ridden by Bejarano, scored impressively in his one-mile debut at Santa Anita on Dec. 27. He finished strongly to win the maiden special weight by 2 ≤ lengths in 1:36 1/5.
California-bred Clubhouse Ride is the only stakes winner in the lineup. The son of Candy Ride, bred by the Craigs, won the $115,000 Barretts Juvenile by 2 ≤ lengths at Fairplex Park last September. Patrick Valenzuela again will ride for trainer Craig Lewis. Clubhouse Ride has started 10 times with a 2-1-4 showing for earnings of $297,550.
The complete field for the Sham Stakes, with jockeys in post position order (each entrant carries 118 pounds): Clubhouse Ride, Valenzuela; Uncle Sam, Bejarano; Anthony's Cross, Rosario; Tapizar, Gomez, and Pride of Silver, Victor Espinoza.
The Santa Ynez's field of seven includes a pair of fillies that were declared from last Sunday's Santa Ysabel Stakes, a Grade III at 1 1/16 miles won by Baffert's May Day Rose. They are Baffert stablemate Plum Pretty and the Sadler-trained Zazu.
Peachtree Stable's Plum Pretty, who will have Bejarano aboard, has been working very well since breaking her maiden while debuting at Hollywood Park's Oak Tree meet on Oct. 27.
Zazu, yet another runner sired by Tapit, is coming out of the Grade I Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 11. She finished fifth behind highly-regarded Turbulent Descent. She previously ran second to Turbulent Descent in the Nov. 21 Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park. Zazu has earned $60,985 from a 1-2-0 mark in four starts for Jerry and Ann Moss.
The most accomplished filly in the field is trainer Doug O'Neill's California Nectar, who has $123,800 in earnings for Suarez Racing from a 2-3-0 record in six races. Valenzuela, who was in the saddle for California Nectar's 1∏-length win in the $100,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Dec. 27 at Santa Anita, will be back aboard the daughter of Stormy Atlantic.
The complete field for the Santa Ynez Stakes, with jockeys in post position order (each entrant carries 118 pounds): California Nectar, Valenzuela; Star Presence, Smith; Zazu, Rosario; Plum Pretty, Bejarano; Warren's Flyer, Martin Pedroza; Alec's Moon, Gomez, and Teroda, Espinoza.
The San Fernando has been carded as the eighth race on Saturday, with the Sham slotted as the third. The Santa Ynez will go as the sixth race. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
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