Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Classic Candy

He's big, he's tall, and he's dark, but Twirling Candy is no stranger to racing fans. Unbeaten and untested in four starts, he is known as a budding star. His last two scores in the Oceanside Stakes and the Del Mar Derby have only solidified that belief.

One would think that two such impressive scores over the lawn, both of which were won with a big powerful late spurt that left the fields toiling in his wake, would warrant a stab at racing's most exciting weekend, the Breeders Cup Turf. That, however, may not be where the good looking son of Candy Ride is being pointed.

There is almost no doubt that with such a talented horse, trainer John Saddler will try to make the Breeders Cup, but the Turf, which may be the most logical option, may not be the race Saddler is eyeing the most. The race he may have his sights set on could possibly be none other than the Classic.

Why in the world would Sadder do a thing like that? Why would he take what is obviously a monster over the turf and switch him to dirt? The answer is that Twirling Candy has two easy and dominant wins over the surface in California that plays most like dirt. Hollywood Park's Cushion Track.

In his debut, before anyone knew his name, Twirling Candy won by a measured half a length over Nextdoorneighbor, a horse that was being considered for this year's Kentucky Derby. He then followed that effort up with an eye catching allowance race that he won going away. Now he is being pointed towards the Goodwood, a Grade one, again at Hollywood Park.

Should he win the Goodwood like he has everything else, easily, then why not take a stab at the Classic? With Candy Ride as a sire and the way he is always striding out so strongly after the finish, would suggest that he should have no trouble with the distance. His sire could've cared less what was under his feet, and as of now, it seems he has passed that trait on to Twirling Candy.

The talented colt will have a lot going against him if he enters the Classic. One big obstacle is the quality of the field. This year's Classic seems to be shaping up as one of the best in recent memory. He also had to shake off the curse that seems to follow California synthetic horses once they try main track under the Twin Spires. Finally, he will have to overcome his inexperience. If he goes in the Classic, it will be only his sixth career start.

Can such a lightly raced colt, even one as talented as Twirling Candy, win despite all that stands in his way? If he can, there is no reason to not use the word 'great' to describe him. If he falls just short, it will be expected, and there will many ex uses for him to fall back on. However, a loss will not mean he cannot still be great. It only means it was too much too soon. One thing is for certain, with a talent like Twirling Candy, anything is possible.


  1. Usually if I see how good a horse is doing on one surface I get leery when he (or she) is switched to another, but in Twirling Candy's case, it may be reasonable. He has a combination of grass and dirt in his pedigree and the horses in it were outstanding runners; and actually his bloodline is probably heavier toward dirt than grass, although his damsire Chester House was a strong grass runner, and then you've got Blushing Groom and Herbager as well. But the dirt runners are pretty special and Twirling Candy is also inbred to Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector.

    If Sadler is rolling the dice, it's not a bad gamble. The only question would be if the weather is "iffy" in Kentucky in November and make for an off track.

  2. The Goodwood will be a demanding and interesting test for Candy. In a way he reminds me of Tiznow ten years ago ... of course Tiznow proved to have all the guts of a Red Sox fan at a Yankees game.

  3. Well Candy has yet to be looked in the eye, but he should be test to some degree in the Goodwood. Can he hold of Richards Kid and Awesome Gem? I think he can, but hard knocking and consistent older males normally provide more of a test than we think they could to a talented 3yr old.

    John, I was thinking the same thing, plus as I mentioned he has two impressive wins over the surface that plays the closest to dirt in Cali. That is how I normally judge how a horse may do when they try dirt. BL and LAL excelled on that track and they ended up being even more dynamic over conventional dirt.

    However, CD is not a kind track to first time dirt starters who are also trying 10 furlongs for the first time. For him to pull of a win would be spectacular.

  4. If a BC win for Twirling Candy would be "spectacular", what's the chance of that actually happening? But your argument is a good one and I agree with regards to the other California horses who have shipped and won on conventional dirt. I think Twirling Candy could be another one, based on your comments and what I said earlier.

    The Goodwood should be a good barometer of what he might be like on dirt, but then we never really know until he's over it, since each horse is an individual. There are some very big guns that Twirling Candy would have to face down in the Classic. Frankly, as much as I like the horse, my support is for another, but with TC in it, it would sure bolster a BC field that is already strong.

  5. John,

    Based on what he is up against, history, running 10 furlongs and on dirt for the first time, taking on the likes of Zen, Blame, QR, and LAL, his chances are slim. However his talent makes one wonder. Even in his maiden he had the other horse measured.

    Curlin's win in the Classic was spectacular. He went from maiden to classic winner, to BCC winner in one year. By November, he was more of a know comodity than TC. I'm not saying TC is anywhere near Curlin, but his potenital at this point is similar to where Curlin was when he first started out.

  6. If Twirling Candy runs in the Classic, doesn't win it, but runs very well and perhaps finishes in the top four or even five, then comes back as a four-year-old, we could be looking at a big developing star.

    I'm getting way ahead here, but based on his talent, it's possible. I'd love to see a horse with this kind of upside, and who has thus far been raced sparingly--I think he has--,return as an older horse.