When the South American sensation CANDY RIDE (ARG) retired to stud, he was, admittedly, still something of an unknown to American breeders. But if nothing else, he boasted a race record that spoke to a horse with near unlimited potential, highlighted by a track-record-setting win in the G1 Pacific Classic over Medaglia d’Oro. As it turned out, CANDY RIDE has proven one of North America’s most exciting sires, with seven Grade 1 winners from his first three crops. His offspring have won races like the G1 King’s Bishop S., G1 Santa Anita Derby, G1 Santa Anita H., G1 Pat O’Brien S., and G1 La Brea S., and no fewer than three of his runners have lowered four track records.
Owned and bred by Sid and Jenny Craig, who raced CANDY RIDE, and trained by John Sadler, TWIRLING CANDY made his 2-year-old debut in a seven-furlong test at Hollywood in November of 2009 and made every pole a winning one while stopping the clock in 1:22 flat. After some time off from sore shins, he remained unbeaten in his sophomore bow, airing by a big 7 3/4-length margin in a 6 1/2-furlong race at the same course. The final time of 1:15 flat was “sizzling,” said The Blood-Horse later, and the effort earned him TDN Rising Star status.
Sadler opted to try TWIRLING CANDY on grass next out, and the colt responded with his first stakes win, an easy daylight victory in the Oceanside S. at Del Mar. His first graded win came soon after, when in his next start TWIRLING CANDY won the nine-furlong G2 Del Mar Derby by three lengths in 1:46 4/5. “He’s so talented–he’s such a good colt,” jockey Joel Rosario told the Thoroughbred Times after the race. The typically measured Sadler was even more effusive. “[TWIRLING CANDY] was so much the best,” he said. “It was only his fourth start, and he’s big and headstrong. He’ll get better and better against better horses. This is one of the best horses in the country; he’s so gifted.”
TWIRLING CANDY soon proved his conditioner right in his first start over a conventional dirt track in the prestigious G1 Malibu S. at Santa Anita. Against top-flight competition, including MG1SW Smiling Tiger, TWIRLING CANDY rallied stoutly to take the seven-furlong Malibu in an unheard-of 1:19.70. The winning time took well over a tick off the old track record of 1:20, set by the great Spectacular Bid in the same race30 years earlier. “When you’re on the best horse like TWIRLING CANDY, it’s no surprise that he ran that fast,” Rosario told The Blood-Horse. The record took on added significance given the honor roll of Malibu winners: Round Table, Native Diver, Buckpasser, Damascus, Ancient Title, Ferdinand, PLEASANT TAP, DIXIE UNION, ROCK HARD TEN, etc.
Sadler knew he had one of the top older horses in the country heading into TWIRLING CANDY’s 4-year-old season, and the big colt did nothing to dispel that notion. In his first start of the year, TWIRLING CANDY won the nine-furlong G2 Strub S. at Santa Anita in 1:46 2/5, then returned to win the G2 Californian S. by daylight. By that point, Lane’s End’s Will Farish and California-based owner and breeder Marty Wygod were so struck by TWIRLING CANDY’s innate abilities that they bought into the Grade 1 winner.
And TWIRLING CANDY had much more to offer. A neck back in third in the 1 1/4-mile G1 Hollywood Gold Cup, he ran one of his best career races in defeat in the 2011 G1 Pacific Classic, also contested at 1 1/4 miles.
The Blood-Horse’s Jack Shinar described the race: “Acclamation, as expected, went to the front soon out of the chute at odds of 4-1 and led second choice Game On Dude down the stretch the first time as [favored] TWIRLING CANDY tracked in third. There was no change in that order as [Acclamation] slowed the pace to a crawl, clicking off the opening quarter-mile in :24.57, the half in :48.65, and six furlongs in 1:12.88. As the leaders made their way into the stretch, Valenzuela floated Acclamation out and he inched away from Game On Dude, who came under pressure from Chantal Sutherland to keep up. TWIRLING CANDY drew closer for Rosario, and by the time they reached the furlong pole, it was down to a two-horse race. TWIRLING CANDY rallied furiously on the outside…as they hit the wire, with Acclamation maintaining a slight advantage. ACCLAMATION ran the 1 1/4-mile distance in 2:00.61, a Polytrack record at Del Mar.”
Even though he came up a head short, TWIRLING CANDY was awarded a 105 Beyer for his effort, which matched up nicely with the 106 he received in the Hollywood Gold Cup. And given the fact that he was beaten less than a combined half-length in the premier 10-furlong races for older horses on the West Coast, TWIRLING CANDY put to rest the notion he wasn’t a true Classic-distance horse.
How good was TWIRLING CANDY at 10 furlongs? In 2011, only one horse, Flat Out, ran faster than TWIRLING CANDY’s 106 Beyer going 1 1/4 miles, and no horse other than TWIRLING CANDY was able to run 105 or better figures twice at the distance.
Sadly, as TWIRLING CANDY was preparing for a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, he suffered a minor injury two weeks out and was retired. His lifetime record stood at seven wins from 11 starts, with a second and a third, and $944,900 in earnings. One of the most intriguing aspects of TWIRLING CANDY is that, though he won from 6 1/2 furlongs to nine furlongs, on dirt, turf and synthetic, and ran triple-digit BRIS figures in eight of his 11 starts, fans got the impression they never saw the best of TWIRLING CANDY. Of course, the same probably could have been said about his sire when CANDY RIDE retired.
In addition to his on-track ability, TWIRLING CANDY has the pedigree to be a top sire. From the family of Triple Crown winner and successful sire Affirmed, TWIRLING CANDY’s dam, House of Danzig, is by Chester House–one of the best-bred sons of Mr. Prospector, being a son of the great Tousaaud, and a rising stallion star before his untimely death. TWIRLING CANDY’s next two dams, meanwhile, are by Danzig and Seattle Slew, some of the most influential names in breeding over the last 30 years. And TWIRLING CANDY has the looks–at 16.2 hands, he cuts an imposing, daunting figure.
Despite these sterling credentials, TWIRLING CANDY has been reasonably priced in his initial year at stud in 2012 at a fee of $15,000 and in 2013, will be $12,500 giving a huge upside to both commercial and breed-to-race operations. This left breeders contemplating not if they’ll send a mare to TWIRLING CANDY…but how many! The result: he bred 118 mares in 2012 (111 in foal for 94% fertility). At the breeding stock sales, mares in foal to him topped out at $160,000, higher than other first-year covering sires such as Tizway, Drosselmeyer, Paddy O’Prado, Trappe Shot, Misremembered and Court Vision. Call Lane’s End today to schedule an appointment to see the handsome TWIRLING CANDY.