INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 4, 2011)—Although there were some anxious moments in his first start without blinkers, heavily-favored Twirling Candy got the job done in the $150,000 Californian Stakes Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Wrangled off the pace immediately by jockey Joel Rosario, the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride seemed to resent the tactics, dropping back almost to last in the field of seven about midway through the Grade II as longshot Victory Pete set a pokey pace.
Able to find a seam between horses early in the stretch, the 2-5 choice collared the leaders inside the final sixteenth of a mile and was pulling away at the finish.
Ending a 0-for-24 stakes drought for trainer John Sadler that extended to Cozi Rosie’s victory in the Buena Vista Feb. 21 at Santa Anita, Twirling Candy won for the seventh time in 10 starts for breeder Jenny Craig, who owns the dark bay in partnership with William S. Farish and Marty Wygod.
Out of the Chester House mare House of Danzing, Twirling Candy increased his earnings to $684,900. It was his third win in four starts over Cushion Track, but his first locally around two turns.
Primarily because of the slow early fractions (24.60, 49.49 and 1:14.60 for the first three-quarters of a mile), the final time of 1:50 was the slowest in 30 runnings of the Californian at nine furlongs.
In his first race since he was beaten by a nose at nearly 26-1 in the Santa Anita Handicap March 5, Setsuko was again the runner-up, finishing 1 ½ lengths behind Twirling Candy.
The 4-1 second choice finished a nose in front of Aggie Engineer, who was seeking his fourth win over the Hollywood Park main track. A nose back in fourth was Soul Candy.
Completing the order of finish were Spurrier, Honour the Deputy and Victory Pete. Gladding, also trained by Sadler, was scratched earlier in the day.
Favored in all but two of his races, Twirling Candy paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. Setsuko returned $2.80 and $2.60. The show price on Aggie Engineer was $3.60.
“He’s a real good horse,’’ said Rosario after his meet-high ninth stakes victory. “They were going too slow up front. I was waiting a little on the backside and he was a little farther behind than I thought he’d be.
“There were horses in front of me and I was between horses. They were going slow and I was able to get him in behind horses, so that was good. The rest of the riders knew my horse was the horse to beat and they were trying to keep him down in there.
“He was very relaxed without the blinkers. On the turn, I was taking my time getting him to the outside. He can do anything. When he sees horses in front of him he just goes and gets them.’’
After his first win in the Californian, Sadler indicated Twirling Candy is likely to make his next start in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 9. If successful in the Grade I, Twirling Candy would become the first horse to win the Californian and the Gold Cup in the same year since Lava Man in 2005.
“We took the blinkers off because we wanted to see him relax,’’ said Sadler. “He trains without the blinkers in the morning. It was a little puzzling to see him that far back, but then they kind of wanted to box him in, you know, which is race riding. Joel just stayed nice and cool. I’m happy to win this one today and look down the road.’’
Siempre Esperanza, who won the fourth race as a 37-1 shot in her debut, keyed the third largest superfecta payoff – based on a $1 wager – in Hollywood Park history Saturday.
Trained by Paul Aguirre for owners Jon Stein and Kurt Unger, the 3-year-old Forest Grove filly, who was ridden by Edwin Maldonado-Alicea, was followed home by 27-1 outsider Rags for Ben, 6-1 shot Our Lady Gaga and Girls Lacrosse, the longest price in the field of 14 at 115-1. The return was $144,481.50. The biggest $1 superfecta payoff at Hollywood Park was $215,845.40 in the sixth race July 7, 2006.
There were seven 10 cent tickets with the right combination (14-8-3-12) Saturday. Each paid $14,448.
There were two winning tickets in the Pick 6, each worth $518,864.80. An additional $1,356,444 was wagered Saturday in pursuit of a double carryover of $312,479.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The main event on the nine race program is the $70,000 Redondo Beach Stakes, an ungraded race for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
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