March 14, 2016
Source: TDN (Andrew Caulfield)

Of the owners whose hopefuls set out on the road to the Kentucky Derby, some come to identify with the Beatles’ lyrics for “The Long and Winding Road”. All too many are indeed destined to shed “a pool of tears,” but the connections of Destin and Danzing Candy have every reason to be joyful at this comparatively early stage.

These two both collected 50 of the 85 Kentucky Derby points on offer in each of last Saturday’s GII trials, the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and the San Felipe S. Destin and Danzing Candy now respectively rank second and fourth behind Mohaymen in the points race and both merit serious consideration.

Destin, after all, has now won three of his five starts, lowering the track record at Tampa. He is also a brother to Creative Cause, the 2012 San Felipe winner who went on to finish a respectable fifth in the Derby, and these talented brothers can boast two GI-winning parents. It could also be in Destin’s favour that the Tampa Bay Derby was won by Street Sense in the build up to his Kentucky Derby victory (that said, of the six subsequent Tampa Bay Derby winners which made it to Churchill Downs, only the 2009 third Musket Man has managed to reach the first nine).

It is fair to say that the San Felipe has exerted a stronger influence on the main event in recent years. California Chrome made it two Kentucky Derby winners in the space of 15 years when he followed in the footsteps of Fusaichi Pegasus two years ago and we have also seen Pioneerof the Nile finish second, Dortmund third and Medaglia d’Oro fourth. Another San Felipe winner – the 2001 winner Point Given – made amends for a disappointing Derby effort with success in the last two legs of the Triple Crown.

It therefore constitutes quite an achievement on Twirling Candy’s part that he has sired a colt as promising as Danzing Candy in a first crop numbering fewer than 100 foals–especially when this crop was sired at a fee no higher than $15,000. His fee is again $15,000 this year and demand has been high, following his feat of siring 25 individual winners from 45 two-year-old starters. Although none of them succeeded in winning a stakes race last year, no fewer than nine of them were stakes horses and only Uncle Mo finished above Twirling Candy on the freshman sires’ table.

The Lane’s End resident is again providing the stiffest opposition to Uncle Mo among the second-crop sires, thanks not only to Danzing Candy but also the stakes winners Twirling Cinnamon and Iron Rob.

As is usual for many young stallions, Twirling Candy didn’t find it easy to maintain the initial support. He is credited with having 53 two-year-olds, sired at $12,500, and 61 yearlings, sired at $10,000.

Perhaps part of his difficulty was that he was in direct competition with Sidney’s Candy, another GI Californian winner from Candy Ride’s second crop. This winner of the Santa Anita Derby also started out at $15,000 in 2012 (with a third GI-winning son, the Santa Anita H. winner Misremembered, also taking up stallion duties in Kentucky that year, but at a fee of $7,500).

Fortunately for Twirling Candy, there was a terrific buzz about his young stock at the sales, especially at last year’s two-year-old sales. His figures included an average of $186,000, a median of $112,500 and a top price of $630,000 (compared to Sidney’s Candy’s $560,000). This stimulated demand for Twirling Candy’s 2015 services to such an extent that he achieved a book of 154 mares, compared to 2013’s 72 and 2014’s 85. In other words he will stand his best chance of building on his early success when his crops of 2016 and 2017 get to the track.

For the record, Sidney’s Candy also has his first Graded stakes winner under his belt, in the GIII Palm Beach S. winner Converge, while Misremembered was represented last month by the Turf Paradise Derby winner Nightly News.

To get back to Danzing Candy, I initially found it a little concerning that this trail-blazing colt has Songandaprayer as his broodmare sire (with this producing 5 x 5 inbreeding to Fappiano). Songandaprayer, you may recall, blasted out from the number one post in the 2001 Kentucky Derby and proceeded to set fractions of :22.25, :44.86 and 1:09.25 before fading to 13th. It is going to be interesting to see whether Danzing Candy’s connections try to alter his running style a little as the distances lengthen. As Songandaprayer showed, the excitement of Derby Day can make a front runner go too fast too soon.

Fortunately, there is good reason for thinking that Danzing Candy will carry his speed further than Songandaprayer, even though Twirling Candy was fast enough to end his sophomore year with a record-setting victory in the GI Malibu S. over seven furlongs. The son of Candy Ride was no one-dimensional sprinter, as he had earlier won the GII Del Mar Derby over a mile and an eighth and he was campaigned exclusively over nine and ten furlongs as a four-year-old. Although he didn’t quite manage to score over the Kentucky Derby distance, he was beaten only narrowly when third in the Hollywood Gold Cup and second in the Pacific Classic.

In fact he went down by only a head to Acclamation in the Pacific Classic – a race which eight years earlier had revealed the full extent of Candy Ride’s talents. The Argentine import scored by more than three lengths from Medaglia d’Oro, while lowering the track record to 1:59.11. Twirling Candy’s broodmare sire Chester House was also very much at home over a mile and a quarter.

With Candy Ride as his sire and Chester House as his broodmare sire, Twirling Candy could be said to be bred for stallion success. Candy Ride, of course, currently holds second place behind Tapit on the North American sires’ table and he has firmly established himself as a consistent top-five stallion.

Chester House would probably have achieved something similar, had he lived longer. This son of Mr Prospector was only eight when he died in 2003 and left only 223 foals. As many as 28 of these 223 – 13 per cent – became black-type winners and Chester House’s Average Earnings Index of 2.14 was considerably higher than his mares’ Comparable Index.

Danzing Candy’s dam Talkin And Singing failed to win in nine attempts but she has the distinction of being a half-sister to Better Talk Now, who outran his pedigree to the extent that he earned more than $4 million in winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf and four other GI races.

Danzing Candy’s third dam, the French-bred Bonne Note, was bred to stay pretty well. Her sire Bon Mot won the Arc and her dam Mandolina, a winner of the Prix de Minerve, was out of Folle Nuit, a Prix Vermeille winner who became a very good broodmare.

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