Horseracing

Making the grade: Candy Boy

Candy Boy rallies to victory in the Bob Lewis.
FOX Sports By Mike Curry, America's Best Racing
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Making the Grade, which will run through the 2014 Belmont Stakes, focuses on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the next Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win classic races based upon ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.

This week we take a closer look at Candy Boy, winner of the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 8 at Santa Anita Park.

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The Robert B. Lewis Stakes was a significant hurdle for Candy Boy, a 3-year-old colt who had been generating buzz throughout the winter. In finishing second to eventual champion Shared Belief in the CashCall Futurity to close his 2-year-old season, Candy Boy clearly flashed some talent. But it wasn’t as if he was nipped at the finish line in the CashCall Futurity. He was beaten by 5¾ lengths so there was still plenty left to prove in the Bob Lewis, and Candy Boy stepped up and delivered a knockout performance.

Candy Boy

Bay Colt
Sire (Father): Candy Ride
Dam (Mother): She’s an Eleven, by In Excess
Owner: C R K Stables
Breeder: Lee Searing and Susan Searing (Ky.)
Trainer: John Sadler

Ability: It took Candy Boy four races to pick up his first victory. After finishing fourth, fourth and second, Candy Boy streaked to an 8¼-length romp on the synthetic surface at Hollywood Park in an eye-opening effort. Hall of Famer Gary Stevens picked up the mount for the CashCall Futurity and Candy Boy dropped well back early before making a huge middle move to take the lead on the final turn. What was troubling was that Shared Belief absolutely inhaled him when asked to accelerate and put Candy Boy away in a matter of strides.

In the Bob Lewis, Candy Boy found a nice rhythm in the early stages and was able to conserve his energy. When Stevens asked him to run he shifted gears and really picked it up in the stretch. He covered the final sixteenth of a mile in :06.19, which means he was still moving and not running out of steam. Candy Boy’s 91 Equibase Speed Figure for the CashCall Futurity was a career best, but a notch below the best of his generation. He recorded a 97 in the Bob Lewis, which still places him about eight points below the best of his generation on the Derby trail but clearly headed in the right direction.

Running style: Candy Boy has dropped back off the pace in all of his races, but in the Bob Lewis Stakes he showed the ability to stay within a couple of lengths of a solid opening half-mile in :46.80.

The closer he stays to the pace, the less traffic he’ll have to weave through as the fields get larger and the distances get longer. One factor that should help is that as these races get longer, the pace up front generally slows down a bit. That should allow him to settle in comfortably within a few lengths of the pace and unleash one big rally when asked. He looked extremely responsive in the Lewis when Stevens angled him to the outside and then asked him to take aim on the leaders.

Connections: Gary Stevens is a Hall of Fame rider with nine classic victories to his credit – three each in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. One of the only missing major races on his résumé when Stevens made his comeback in 2013 was the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which he won in November aboard Mucho Macho Man. If you need a rider to guide a horse around an oval as quickly as possible in a marquee race, there have been few better, ever, in the sport of thoroughbred racing than Stevens.

Trainer John Sadler has won more than 2,000 races in a distinguished career. He trained Grade 1 winner Switch for Candy Boy’s owner C R K Stable. Sadler also trained Twirling Candy and Sidney’s Candy, both Grade 1 winners by Candy Boy’s sire, Candy Ride. Sadler’s best finish in the Kentucky Derby was a sixth-place finish in 1993 with Corby.

C R K Stables is the racing operation of Candy Boy’s breeders, Lee and Susan Searing. The stable is named for the couple’s three children, Christina, Richard and Katherine.

Pedigree: Candy Boy is from the sixth crop of Grade 1 winner Candy Ride, the horse Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone famously referred to as a “rocket ship” when she guided him to victory in the 2003 Pacific Classic Stakes. Interestingly, Stevens was aboard Candy Ride for the start before the Pacific Classic and the duo teamed to win the Grade 2 American Handicap. Stevens knows Candy Ride quite well.

Unbeaten in six starts on the racetrack, Candy Ride has also enjoyed his share of success as a sire. The aforementioned champion Shared Belief is by Candy Ride as are Grade 1 winners Twirling Candy and Sidney’s Candy. Candy Ride also is the sire of 2010 Santa Anita Handicap winner Misremembered, Grade 2 winners Clubhouse Ride and Kettle Corn and graded stakes winner Chocolate Candy (fifth in the 2009 Kentucky Derby). The majority of Candy Ride’s top runners have been male and they have thrived in races at a mile or longer.

Candy Boy’s dam (mother), She’s an Eleven, won the 2006 Melair Stakes at 1 1/16 miles while racing for C R K Stable and Sadler. Candy Boy is one of two winners from three starters for She’s an Eleven.

Candy Boy’s grandam (maternal grandmother), She’s a Sensation, was stakes-placed at a 1 1/16 miles but never won a race longer than six furlongs (three-quarters of a mile). She’s a Sensation is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to Leave Me Alone, winner of the Grade 1 Test Stakes at seven furlongs in 2005.

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