“Beautiful,” said trainer John Sadler after Sidney’s Candy worked seven furlongs in a bullet 1:24 at Hollywood Park for the $150,000 Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Saturday. “He couldn’t be better. He’s fresh and ready for the second half of the year.”
The multiple stakes-winning 4-year-old colt will make his first start since winning the Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita December 26. He had been hampered by minor injuries to a foot and his hind end.
Sidney’s Candy will be ridden for the first time by Alonso Quinonez since his previous jockeys, Joel Rosario and Joe Talamo, will be in Kentucky next weekend.
Sidney’s Candy, a graded stakes winner on synthetic, turf and dirt, has won six of 11 starts and earned $893,560 for owner Jenny Craig. The Mervyn LeRoy, at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track, is the first stepping stone for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 9.
Sidney’s Candy will be out to make amends for his only previous start here, when he was nipped by Skipshot at the wire as the 1-5 favorite in the Swaps Stakes last July.
Sadler said that multiple stakes-winning stablemate Twirling Candy is also back galloping and should give the trainer a potent 1-2 punch in the handicap division here on both surfaces.
Other probable starters in the Mervyn LeRoy include Crown of Thorns (Tyler Baze), Honour the Deputy (Brice Blanc) and Spurrier (Chantal Sutherland). Spurrier worked five furlongs in 59, and Honour the Deputy was clocked in 1:26 for seven panels.
Heading the list of possibles is Coffee Boy, a newcomer to the circuit. The 4-year-old colt owned by Gary Barber joined the Peter Miller stable three weeks ago from Florida, where his resume includes a victory in the Grade II Carry Back Stakes last July 10 at Calder. The son of Yonaguska worked six furlongs in 1:12.40.
COMMA TO THE TOP WORKS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
Comma to the Top, winner of the CashCall Futurity and runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 here Sunday morning in his final drill for the Kentucky Derby Saturday.
“Excellent, excellent,” said trainer Peter Miller after the work in company under Patrick Valenzuela, who has the call at Churchill Downs.
The 3-year-old gelding will be flown east early Tuesday morning.
Valenzuela, who won the Derby on Sunday Silence in 1989, is one of seven jockeys on the Southern California circuit who have calls in the probable 20-horse lineup.
The others are Victor Espinoza on Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude, Joel Rosario on Brilliant Speed, Corey Nakatani on Nehro, Mike Smith on Twinspired, Garrett Gomez on Master of Hounds and Rafael Bejarano on Watch Me Go.
Jockey Joe Talamo will also be in Kentucky next weekend to ride Surrey Star in the American Turf Stakes Friday and Caracortado in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Saturday.
The races from Churchill Downs, headed by the Derby Saturday and the Kentucky Oaks Friday, will be simulcast at Hollywood Park.
SENORITA FILLY HARD TO RESIST
Trainer Peter Eurton is confident that Hard to Resist will show improvement over a fifth-place finish in the Providencia Stakes when she returns in the $100,000 Grade III Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf Saturday.
“She ran a good race in the Providencia,” said Eurton Sunday of the Grade II test on the Santa Anita turf April 9. “She just got way too far out of it. I kind of sharpened her up a little bit and hope to be more forwardly placed. You can do just about anything with her.”
Alonso Quinonez will ride the Johannesburg filly for the first time. Other probable starters include Cambina (Brice Blanc), a Jim Cassidy-trained duo of Fifth Ave (Tyler Baze) and Wave of Applause (David Flores), Star Billing (Chantal Sutherland), Entrustment and Up In Time.
Cambina, the probable favorite off three straight stakes wins on the Santa Anita turf, worked five furlongs on the grass here in 1:01.60. Two other candidates also drilled on the lawn: Star Billing, five furlongs in 1:02.80; and Entrustment, six furlongs in 1:14.60.
COST OF FREEDOM TO TEST COOL FRENCHY
Cost of Freedom, who set a track record of 56.14 seconds for five furlongs winning the Miles Tyson Stakes here last December, will try the distance again Saturday in the inaugural $70,000-added Cool Frenchy Stakes.
“This is one of his best tracks,” said trainer John Sadler of the 8-year-old gelding, who also won the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap and Vernon Underwood Stakes at six furlongs here last year.
Tyler Baze has the call in an extremely competitive race also expected to include 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing In Silks (Brice Blanc), 2009 Malibu Stakes winner M One Rifle (Chantal Sutherland) and double stakes winner Goggles McCoy (David Flores).
Ventana, another stakes-winning nominee, worked four furlongs in 49.60 here Sunday. Al Instante, a stakes-winning Chilean import in the Ruben Cardenas barn also nominated to the race, worked five furlongs in 59.40.
PEDERSON TESTS SOUTHERN WATERS
Dean Pederson, a leading trainer in Northern California the past 17 years, is testing the deeper waters of Southern California this meet.
“This is the first time I’ve been down here for the meet full-time,” said Pederson Sunday. “I’ve got 10 here now.”
Pederson said the acquisition of some better horses prompted him to make the move. “Quality,” said Pederson of the shift. “I’m trying to upgrade. I’m training some horses for Harris Farms.”
FINISH LINES—Training traffic was heavy Sunday, with 206 workers on the main track and another 11 on the turf…*Simon Callaghan* , who sent out Dubawi Heights to her first stakes victory in the $100,000 Grade III Wilshire Handicap at one mile on turf Saturday, said the 4-year-old English-bred filly would probably return in the $250,000 Grade I Gamely Stakes on May 30. “It’s an ambitious spot, but she’s an improving filly,” said Callaghan of Dubawi Heights after her third straight victory…Veteran jockey Victor Espinoza has hired Brad Pegram as his agent, severing a long alliance with Tony Matos. Pegram will continue to handle the book of Hall of Famer Mike Smith. Matos last month announced that he would take calls for Garrett Gomez and has been with him in Kentucky. Gomez is scheduled to rejoin the circuit here after the Kentucky Derby Saturday…Octogenarian Ray York, who rode Determine to victory in the 1954 Kentucky Derby, was a visitor here Saturday…Trainer Eoin Harty reported that Victory’s Cry is being pointed for a defense of his Shoemaker Mile crown on July 2… Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said that the trio of Blind Luck, Chocolate Candy and Jakesam will be shipped to Kentucky Tuesday for stakes engagements this weekend… Dan Landers, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, said that 2010 Beverly D. winner Eclair de Lune may run in the Gamely Stakes on May 30…Happy birthday wishes today to trainers Craig Lewis, 64, and Jean-Pierre Dupuis, 60.
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