Candy Boy emerged victorious and picked up 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system with his win in Saturday’s $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Cal. The win is his second in six career starts and first graded stakes.
Candy Boy debuted in 9th place on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. The Kentucky-bred son of Candy Ride is setting up trainer John Sadler for hopefully a sweeter trip to the Kentucky Derby than the last son of Candy Ride he took. Sadler trained Sidney’s Candy to a 17th place finish in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
Diamond Bachelor took the early lead after the fast-running Chitu took a bad step at the start of the Robert B. Lewis. Chitu quickly recovered and fought off El Nino Terrible to gain second as the field of seven circled the track in the 1 1/16 mile route. Candy Boy and jockey Gary Stevens were content to sit off the rail just behind the leaders in fourth while favorite, Midnight Hawk, was a close third.
With just under a quarter-mile to go, Diamond Bachelor lost his lead and quickly dropped out of contention as Midnight Hawk and Chitu were there to pick up the pieces. The duel was a short battle as Candy Boy emerged on the outside and swiftly put aside Midnight Hawk. Candy Boy and Chitu continued to fight on down the lane, but Candy Boy came out on top, a half-length in front of Chitu. Midnight Hawk was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third and Diamond Bachelor held on for fourth, 4 ¼ lengths further back.
Life is grower sweeter for Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who came out of retirement last year at the age of 50, continues to ride like a jockey half his age. He rode Oxbow to a sixth-place finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness Stakes with him two weeks later. He has another Kentucky Derby contender to get excited about.
“He’s not a typical Candy Ride, he sits higher than others and he continues to grow,” said Stevens. “The further the better for him. He has a high cruising speed. I couldn’t believe the time. When we were coming back I saw the time was one-forty-one, with the first quarter in twenty-three and change but it felt like we were going twenty-five down the backside. He covers so much ground. When you set him down he really gets underneath you and gives you a really good feeling.”
The Grade 1 $1 Million Santa Anita Derby (Apr. 5) will likely be the next start for Lee and Susan Searing’s CRK Stable, LLC.’s Candy Boy.
“When you’re looking around the United States, weather everywhere else is terrible, so right now, I’m staying right here,” said Sadler. “They had to cancel at Oaklawn on Friday, so we’re not looking to go anywhere but to stay right in our own backyard.”
Trainer Bob Baffert said of Chitu, “He was in a good spot and ran a pretty good race. I think he deserves another chance – maybe slow him down a little bit, maybe take the blinkers off him.”
On favorite Midnight Hawk’s third-place performance, “I liked the way he sat off horses today. He wouldn’t do it before.”
Overall, Baffert was pleased with his runner-ups, Midnight Hawk and Chitu.
“When they run 1:41 and change, those are really good horses,” said Baffert. “We got beat by a really good horse today. I think they’re both good horses.”
Stevens had nothing but accolades and high hopes for his mount Candy Boy.
“He’s the number one draft choice for me,” said Stevens. “That was quite a performance he just put on against some pretty nice three-year-olds.
Candy Boy returned $6.60, $3.20, and $2.20. Chitu paid $5.00 and $3.00 and completed the $1 exacta for $14.70. Midnight Hawk paid $2.10 and completed the $1 trifecta for $31.30. Diamond Bachelor completed the $1 superfecta for $167.50. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race over the fast dirt was 1:41.83.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Anita.com