Friday, November 14, 2008

A Sweet Departure

Despite the floundering economy’s affect on the racing industry, I remain with a smile on my face. Still, there are many horses running who are exciting and interesting. I would like to focus today on a stallion that a lot of people did not expect to do well, except me. His name is Candy Ride, and he is showing signs of very big things.

In 2002, Candy ride began his career in South America where he won three races in amazing style, including a one-mile world record in an unworldly 1:31. That is not a typo. This horse was serious business. He was snatched up by Sid and Jenny Craig and brought to America to be under the watchful eye of Ron McAnally in 2003. In the U.S. he would go on to win his first start impressively, an allowance, and then ran away much the best in the grassy All-American(G2) at Hollywood Park. This was no small feat, considering he beat one of the best milers of the last ten years, Special Ring, at his own game in the process. His winning Beyer Speed Figure was approximately a 107.

Next came an ambitious challenge for the bay son of Ride the Rails- a handicapping behemoth named Medaglia d’Oro. At the time, Medaglia d’Oro was the top-ranked older runner in America. With Jerry Bailey in the irons, Medaglia d’Oro dictated the Pacific Classic for seven furlongs until a patient Julie Krone let out what must have scared Bailey out of his stirrups. Candy Ride not only took the race to Medaglia d’Oro with over three furlongs remaining, but he waltzed past him with 3/16 to go and won easily. In a four horse race, left in the dust was Fleetstreet Dancer, who would go on to win the $2.4million Japan Cup Dirt, and Milwaukee Brew, who won consecutive Santa Anita Handicaps. Candy Ride won with a massive Beyer of 124, and did it in an effortlessly perfect style that I have only seen one horse come close to since. That horse was Ghostzapper, a mere one year later. What a match up that would have been! Alas, that’s a story for another day.

Candy Ride is the offspring of Ride the Rails, who had the misfortune of bumping heads with a very difficult crop of 1991. He beat the champion, Dehere, in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park, then went on to clash with Halo’s Image, Holy Bull, Go for Gin and Patton. In an extremely talented group of Florida-based sophomores, he held his own. He was bred for the dangerous combination of endurance and closing speed. Cryptoclearance, his sire, is famous for providing horses with a vicious turn of foot (e.g. Victory Gallop, Traitor, Crypto Star, Volponi, Strategic Maneuver, Cryptocloser and Millennium Wind) and was famous, himself, for looping entire fields with an effortless stride. He definitely passed that fluidity on to Candy Ride. Candy Ride’s female side is Candy Stripes/Blushing Groom brilliance on top of Argentinian grit. What that leaves you with, if the chemicals react perfectly, is a fluid, fast-closing, brilliant, high-cruising, gritty colt. It worked perfectly.

Candy Ride was unlucky enough to injure himself before he would have to tangle with his last expected hurdles: Congaree and Pleasantly Perfect. Those two would go on to win the last two big races for older horses, the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Cigar Mile. Though brilliant, I am fairly certain Candy Ride would have beaten both. He retired with a perfect 6-for-6 and an empty feeling of what might have been left in his awed fans, including myself.

Now a stallion, his first offspring are hitting the ground running, despite him not getting a great deal of commercial attention. What I find interesting about him is that his breeding works perfectly with the two most prolific American Stallions: Storm Cat and A.P. Indy. Actually, his current big runner (Capt Candyman Can) is out of a Storm Cat mare. With the abundance of those two lines out there, paired with Candy Ride’s fantastic outcross, I expect HUGE things in the future for this stallion.

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