The Time is Now for Twirling Candy

Welcome back to Breeders' Cup Chat, 2011 edition.

Most years, I watch the Hollywood Gold Cup with minor interest. With a couple of rare exceptions, it's a race that doesn't have much major impact on the Breeders' Cup Classic, and so for me, it's a just another California grade I with a small field that helps pass the time before Saratoga begins.

This year, however, I will be watching the Gold Cup with keen interest. Why? Because for the sake of racing, I am hoping that Twirling Candy puts together a lights-out performance and finally gives the handicap division a clear-cut leader.

More than six months into the racing season we are still sitting here waiting for a star to emerge. It doesn't look like we are going to get it from the 3-year-old class and it seems that every passing weekend produces one longshot after another in the handicap division. (Don't get me started on the turf handicap division).

By far the most exciting thing that racing has going for it in 2011 is the rivalry between Havre de Grace and Blind Luck, who will meet once again in the Delaware Handicap next weekend. Many are saying that these two fillies are the best horses in the country--male or female--and that remains to be seen. But in the meantime, we desperately need a male star. Is it Twirling Candy?

Over the last 10 months Twirling Candy has won four graded stakes on dirt and synthetics and certainly gives the impression that he is a blossoming star. When he is on his game, the son of Candy Ride is scary good, as he showed in the Strub. But until he proves he can handle1 1/4 miles, he cannot be considered the Breeders' Cup Classic favorite. 

In the Santa Anita Handicap, Twirling Candy was clearly affected by the three-way bumper car bonanza that occurred at the top of the stretch. His trainer, John Sadler, thinks he could have won the race instead of fading to fifth had it not been for the alleged interference. Other trainers thought he was finished by the time he turned for home, regardless of the bumping that took place. For the record, I don't think Twirling Candy would have won the Big ‘Cap even if he had a clean trip, but I do think he can handle 10 furlongs.

On Saturday, he will have a chance to prove it. If he does, we finally have a legitimate division leader. And, boy, do we ever need it.

And if he loses? Well, not to take anything away from the other top contenders, but First Dude and Setsuko are a combined 4-for-29 in their careers, and Game On Dude was just soundly beaten in a pair of grade IIIs after his narrow win in the Big ‘Cap. If they, or any of the other four entrants win the Gold Cup win, we will go yet another week without any idea of who the best male horse in the country might be.

And if that's the case, wake me up when the Delaware Handicap starts.



Leave a Comment:

Bob from Boston

It's been an odd year so far.  We need a Triple Crown winner badly.  Does anyone else have post Triple Crown blues?  Judging from the post counts, Ted from LA is not alone.  I think I may take up quilting until the Breeders' Cup.

08 Jul 2011 12:51 PM

I don't know about the best horses in the county, but certainly Havre and Blind Luck are two of the most consistent with their "A" game and providing thrilling finishes.  I expect another Alli vs. Frazier style slug fest.  Once again Hollendorfer is the master of placement opting out of the Gold Cup for a race that Blind Luck can win.  His horse loves to ship, travels well, and has never been off the board.  Much to like as she seems to have rebounded once away from speed favoring Santa Anita and may be even tougher than last year.

08 Jul 2011 1:29 PM

Havre has three wins over the track but Blind Luck got her in the Delaware Oaks which I think was their only meeting in Delaware.  The added distance and what Blind Luck did with it at Saratoga last summer gives her the edge.  

08 Jul 2011 1:44 PM

Twirling Candy should beat this field and not even break a sweat.  If he struggles, I would ship him out of California and head East with him as I believe he would be better on natural dirt.  He does have a strong Turf influence in Chester House, Danzig, and even Seattle Slew.  ALydar has always been considered a solid play on turf.  Maybe this is why they kept him on the synthetics.  He is gone to stud next year so they don't have alot of time to get him acclimated to the real dirt.

08 Jul 2011 1:56 PM

I like Twirling Candy too, but the female equine athletes have been carrying competitive horse racing for the last 10 years.  Rather than bemoan the lack of male stars, it's time to start celebrating the fillies and mares.

Tennis can thrive when their female stars take center stage and carry the sport though a slump of uninteresting male competitors: why can't racing???

08 Jul 2011 2:05 PM

Setsuko is ready for the win. He was 2nd last out to TC off of a 3 month break, he is stretching back to 10 panels, and he will be running at the end.

Coil and Spud Spivens in the SWAPS. Spivens will like the extra distance.

Fantasia over My Baby Baby and Wasted Tears in the Modesty. Don't know if Wasted can wire the field. Fantasia is rounding back into previous form.

Like Juniper Pass off of his Cali wins, but Arlington is a depper course. Don't like him here. Going with the party horse, Mister Mardi Gras. Also like the foreign horse Interaction.

Am Derby will be going with Derby Kitten over Wilcox Inn. Need to watch the Weld horse getting lasix and Close Ally as well.

I love the backclass of Champagne D Oro, going with her over Sassy Image in the Rooney. She should be ready after a little break. Carry Back, Cal Nation over Smash and Indiano. In the Smile, I like This One's For Phil, but I have to go with N.Promise in this spot. he found his niche. Good Luck to all.

08 Jul 2011 3:11 PM

At their best, Twirling Candy and Blind Luck are clearly the best in the country. And they're both from California! How did that happen Draynay? It's been quite a while since the best horse was east coast based and it doesn't look like that'll change this year.

08 Jul 2011 3:43 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I'm very curious as to why you say that the division will have a clear cut leader if Twirling Candy gives a lights out performance in the Gold Cup since it is on synthetic and the BC Classic will be on dirt? I can't see you picking him for the Classic. I can't see myself picking him for the Classic either because of the distance and surface no matter what happens in the HP Gold Cup. He'll need to at least win in something like the other Gold Cup-The Jockey Club for me to get serious about him on dirt at 10f. The Hp Gold Cup is unlikely to convince me.

Billy's Empire

   I love what is happening with the male sprint division. It could even take over as the most contentious and talented group. I agree with you on Setsuko-He's due for a win but I don't know if this is the spot or not. I just may bet him tomorrow if the odds are good and every race until he wins.


   Best of luck with Runflatout tomorrow and have fun.

08 Jul 2011 4:20 PM
Jason Shandler

Dr. D: Twirling Candy already has two graded wins in dirt. Surface is not the question for him, it's distance.

08 Jul 2011 4:23 PM
Carlos in Cali

First Dude has turned into a different animal under BBaffert's care,basically he now wants to win and get his picture taken.No surprises there.

I'll take him over TC and Setsuko at a price thinking they might let him get away w/an uncontested lead and be able to hang on.I'm thinking they'll take a hold of TC early on like they did in his last race,but not sure he'll have that same kick @ 10f.

Runflatout rated kindly in his last start and was gaining ground on Coil,I see further improvement in him and I'll take him over Coil.

08 Jul 2011 5:01 PM

I going to try and beat twirling candy on saturday. TC will need to answer distance questions for me. IMO he is the best miler on dirt in the country, no question. He is probably a better sprinter than a classic distance horse. But those doubts will be answered on saturday.

I am also looking forward to coil running in the swaps.

08 Jul 2011 5:28 PM

Twirling Candy when running his best is one of the best in the nation, however I don't see how one can call Blind Luck the best at this time. She beat Switch, yes, but so did HDG who also beat BL who should have been on the upswing, seeing as how the Azeri was her third start this season off a layoff. HDG is unbeaten this year and Blind Luck is not. Another unbeaten filly, again based on the east coast is Awesome Maria. Four starts and four wins. Three of those were very dominant wins. If Blind Luck comes to DE again and beat HDG then she must beat AM, and she will have that shot at Saratoga.

If Blind Luck goes to the Hirsch and faces Switch again, she is most likely ducking HDG. She has much more to lose in that spot as well. The 8.5f distance is better for Switch and she has a win over the track already. The shortened distance will make it much harder for her to be caught and if she does nose out BL, the BL's status as one of the leading females will lower. In DE, if she wins she will be at the sight where she beat HDG, going her best distance. If she wins her status goes way up, if not no harm done.

Now to TC. Im not sure he would have won the Big Cap, but the bumper cars didn't help. I think he would have finished up third though, with a clean trip. Here has the conditioning and if he can be moved off the pace again he should be able to get the distance very well.

08 Jul 2011 5:48 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Have a really nice vacation. It's true that distance is the primary question. I'll leave it at that since I want him to be the BC Classic favorite.

08 Jul 2011 6:08 PM
Mike Relva


It's something isn't it that some that bashed CA horses are now looking for them to do great things.

08 Jul 2011 7:09 PM

I really like what is on paper for Setsuko he is getting 7 lbs from TC and running an extra 1/8 of a mile.In their last meeting Setso only got 4 lbs from TC at 1 1/8.Also his morning line is 8/1 I think because he dosent win much and because this is a G1, and the prescence of the two dudes out of the Baffert barn.In the last meeting with Game On Dude he got a gift as setso was bothered in the stretch.Refering to what seems to be conventional wisdom on this board as it relates to Blind Luck and Havre de Grace Mismatch is running with 110 lbs after running against those two mares in her last two,starting on the inside at 20-1, good also play in the exotics

08 Jul 2011 7:51 PM
calico cat


I'm glad you're finally excited about a California race. Let me mark the calendar. :)

Dr D.

Thank you! I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Should be an exciting day all around. Go Setsuko! Go Runflatout!

08 Jul 2011 7:51 PM

Until Twirling Candy beats Pleasant Prince TC is nothing more than a average CA horse.  Bank Merger... wow.

08 Jul 2011 8:23 PM

Thank you, Jerry H., for being willing to ship Blind Luck to meet Havre de Grace in her backyard!! Wow, I am rooting for her!!

Thank you, Bill Mott, for shipping Courageous Cat to Cali. -- nice to have a top US grass miler preparing to meet up with top Euros.  Goldi and Canford Cliffs in BC Mile; if they meet, it will be race on BC card.

Also, good luck to Miss Match and Neil Drysdale; nice to see mare step outside her division.  That said, I think Twirling will prove to be best horse in California and US.

08 Jul 2011 8:35 PM

Giant Ryan is fast but Noble's Promise is the fastest horse in the world at 6 furlongs. (Although a NP vs. Bank Merger would be a good one.)  Indiago for the win.

08 Jul 2011 10:35 PM


Yes we need a male star, I totally agree.  Here I am a female saying we need a male star.  Any age at this point, 4 or 5 yrs. old will do until the 3 yr. olds get it together.  I like Twirling Candy and the Danzig influence.  Let's see what he does but the fillies have the edge so far.  Now we need some equal male star counterparts to Blind Luck and Havre de Grace.

On another note, have they gotten the Santa Anita surface any better with the clay and sand compositions?  

Bob from Boston,

Count me right in the post Triple Crown blues group.  I've got them so bad that I wish I was driving out to the Haskell this Sunday in N.J.!  But this year's Haskell has a sad note to it, Animal Kingdom won't be there.

08 Jul 2011 11:23 PM
Mike Relva


TC an "average CA horse". You can't even make the claim of average handicapper.

08 Jul 2011 11:24 PM


Best of luck with Runflatout tomorrow!  You know, I have been loving California racing for the last few years, and me, a die-hard east coaster, has changed my way of thinking.  Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Los Al are gorgeously landscaped and look so inviting.  Zenyatta and Lucky did a lot to convince me that a CA polytrack specialst can excel on east coast dirt.  I'm all for California racing and have really gotten to love it.

08 Jul 2011 11:30 PM

Zookeeper- Good luck with Runflatout!

Dray- a filly by the name of Black Caviar is probably lengths better than Noble's Promise at 6 furlongs.  But even though you said in the world, since she is an Australian horse she probably doesn't count in your mind.... or would it be because she runs on turf.....

Jason- enjoy your vacation!

08 Jul 2011 11:46 PM


I have a feeling he's going to run really big.  Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

09 Jul 2011 12:36 AM

I'm thinking that after drawing the one hole Twirling Candy just might go for the lead and try and wire the field.  Not a lot of speed to contend with and if he gets the lead and relaxes he could be tough.  He’s a head strong horse that might feel that he is superior and needs to be in front to show his superiority, and if getting there early might relax.  Twirling Candy has worked three times for this with 5F in 58.40 (1/50), 6F in 1.13.80 (4/8); and 7F in 1.25.20 (1/2).  They have worked from speed towards endurance.

TWIRLING CANDY for the win with FIRST DUDE (an extraordinary work schedule including a mile in 1.37.40) second; and SOUL CANDY third.  My only concern is the weight TC has to give up.

The upside if TC should loose is that maybe they might abandon all thoughts of the BCC and put him on the turf and aim for the BC Turf Mile.  What a race that would be.

09 Jul 2011 12:53 AM

In the Smile I’ll switch to Apriority.  Four bullets in a row, his last two on this track wee fast and by open lengths, and he is hot right now.  I love Noble’s Promise, but he hasn’t been on this track and it can be tricky.  Apriority for the win, Noble’s Promise 2nd and This One’s for Phil third

09 Jul 2011 1:07 AM
Arts and Letters

I agree star seem to be pretty thin on the ground this year.  It's much more fun watching the European racing.  Goldikova, Frankel, So You Think...Good times!

09 Jul 2011 2:22 AM

The Hollywood Gold Cup wasn't always inconsequential.

In the 24 runnings between 1976 and 1999 the Hollywood Gold Cup featured 21 Eclipse champions(and horses like Exceller and Best Pal that should have been champs), including 8 horses that ran in the Gold Cup the same year they won Horse of the Year.  Since 99?  Not one Eclipse winner has run in the Gold Cup.(More about the decline in Cali racing next week).

If there is an Eclipse winner in this year's Gold Cup field, Twirling Candy is the most logical possibility.  I find it very appropriate that to establish himself as the best male horse in the country Twirling Candy is going to have to win at 10 furlongs from the rail, something that will really test his ability to rate(given he is likely to be between horses or down inside of horses), and that he must go through Team Baffert.  Baffert took down Twirling Candy in the Big Cap, and John Sadler has been vocal in his displeasure with Baffert's #1 rider, Martin Garcia.

I was quite dubious of Twirling Candy in the Big Cap, but I have more faith in him for the Gold Cup.  Still, given his tendency to pull early in races, I'm not sure I want much to do with him at 4-5.  

09 Jul 2011 5:11 AM

Twirling Candy ? No thanks going long my money is on Game On Dude.  He has never lost at the distance and seems to love the track.

09 Jul 2011 11:40 AM

Draynay, TC beat Smiling Tiger at 7 furlongs and he's not even a sprinter. You won't find that kind of versatility on the east coast.

09 Jul 2011 11:49 AM

I don't think surface or distance is the issue with Twirling Candy.  If he'll learn to relax, the question is who gets Place and Show.

09 Jul 2011 1:05 PM
Mike Relva


Would like to express my sincere thanks for not taking TC thus placing a curse on him.

09 Jul 2011 1:08 PM
Bob from Boston

I think Ted from LA would like to write a guest blog if Jason needs a backup.  He will want cash paid at Breeders' Cup.  $200.... per word.  Word.

09 Jul 2011 3:03 PM
Mike Relva

Ok, wrong about TC winning today. So,Draynay are you ever wrong?

09 Jul 2011 7:58 PM

"The Dude has spoken."

09 Jul 2011 8:08 PM

T-C and Smiling Tiger both beat Noble's Promise ON DIRT sprinting.  That's the last we saw of Noble's Promise out west.

Based on Smiling Tiger's most recent Grade I score he is 10 lengths in front of Noble's Promise who looked awful today.  

09 Jul 2011 8:19 PM
Paula Higgins

A very interesting race. Practically a tie between the Dudes. Twirling Candy has distance issues. So where does that leave us? With Havre de Grace, Awesome Maria and a late bloomer. Coil had issues too. Still think the girls are best, although First Dude may be peaking under Baffert. Congrats to Zookeeper for a good race  by RFO. Carlos in Cali you called it. Nice segment on The Queen. I noticed the stands were pretty empty now that she's retired. Not loving that. We need another Super Star-soon.

Ted from LA/Bob from Boston, at a rate of $200.00 a word you better write the second coming of Macbeth/Hamlet/Ulysses/War and Peace/ The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn combined. I know you can do it!

09 Jul 2011 8:30 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Hollywood Gold Cup Recap: The race was won by First Dude ridden by a dude. Another dude, Game On Dude ridden by a dudette was second. Ironically both horses were trained by a dude named Baffert. The dude who was the supposed to be The Dude could only manage third place. Twirling Candy would of had a better chance to win if he was named Candy Dude. The dude that came in first is aptly named First Dude and could be The Dude in the BC Classic. He used to try to lead the posse but now his style is to draw last and gun them down. First Dude is the man, dude.

09 Jul 2011 8:55 PM

Do we have to talk about Twirling Candy ever again ?  He is just another example of California horses not getting it done vs. much better East Coast horses.  We saw it in the Breeders Cup Classic last year and we are seeing it again.  These West Coast poly horses have no heart.  My Dude's did what I knew they would do and Game on Dude looked TC in the eye and found him empty.  Dudes rule.

09 Jul 2011 10:42 PM

Noble's Promise ran a great race. He lost to a Calder Pro and there was nothing wrong with his performance.  He was a little wide and ran into a speed favoring track. Let me remind you he loves Churchill and he is STILL the one to fear at the end of the year.

09 Jul 2011 10:45 PM

Mike I am enjoying my 100$ exacta box on the DUDES !!!

09 Jul 2011 10:46 PM

Twirling Candy? Lol.

09 Jul 2011 10:52 PM

Great win by First Dude.  Now it's time to send him to the East Coast where all the action is.  I only regret Blind Luck wasn't entered in the HGC so this nonsense about her running in the classic would end.  She's not nearly good enough.  Next weekend should put to rest those silly claims.  

09 Jul 2011 10:52 PM


First Dude just won back East. Duh.

That's 3 in a row for First Dude, 2 in graded stakes, one of those graded stakes at Churchill on dirt the other one at Hollywood on synthetic.  He's won those two graded stakes by a combined 3 inches.  I guess that makes him the #1 older male.

How come Baffert can get his horses to jump from dirt to synthetic and synthetic back to dirt, but NONE of the Eastern dirt horses could win on synth when the Breeder's Cup was at Santa Anita?  After the 09' BC, Eastern writers were making it seem that going from dirt to synthetic was nearly impossible.  Well, both Dudes were going dirt to synth, with Game on Dude never having run on synth and First Dude not having run on synth in 15 months.

10 Jul 2011 1:40 AM
Mike Relva


Still think NP is the "fastest in the world at 6f"? Please.

10 Jul 2011 1:43 AM
Mike Relva


If you don't think BL is good enough after what she's proved,you have rocks for brains.

10 Jul 2011 1:45 AM

Yes, it is time to close the book on Twirling Candy as a BC Classic favorite or Eclipse contender.  3 strikes(Goodwood, Big Cap, H Gold Cup) and he's out.  His only chance to compete at the national level is at 7-9 furlongs or maybe on grass up to 10 furlongs.  But enough about him.

Baffert spanks Twirling Candy and John Sadler again.  Baffert has been laying it to Sadler all year, and it's somewhat fitting that Baffert runs 1-2 in the race that was supposed to finally establish Sadler's Twirling Candy as a star.

Game on Dude ran a brave race.  For some reason, the pace was actually quite solid, and that 1 mile fraction of 1:36 and 1 is blazing for Cushion Track.  Compare that with the mile fraction of the Swaps, 1:38, even though the Swaps was an eighth of a mile shorter.  

The 4th quarter when Game on Dude and Twirling Candy went 24 and 1 was demanding.  I'm sure it didn't help Twirling Candy in the stretch, but if pace is going to be used as an excuse, then why could he still not get by Game on Dude who was setting that pace?

Game on Dude proved that he is a versatile horse that wants 10 furlongs and doesn't mind getting into a fight.

First Dude has always had the physical tools.  The question, at first, seemed to be heart.  But actually, the real question was style.  

First Dude is a herd runner.  As a speed horse, this meant he would allow horses to come to him on the far turn, but then when it appeared he was destined to fall to the back of the pack, he would pick it up again once the horses had passed him and he had a target to run at.  In other words, when on the lead, he allowed the herd to catch up to him, only to re-rally and run after the herd once they had passed him.

Baffert's genius is in realizing that, as a herd runner, First Dude needs to have a target to run at, horses to catch up to.  Being a closer allows First Dude to have targets throughout a race.  With targets to run at, First Dude can be asked to use his excellent bursts of speed whenever needed, and he already showed last year in the Belmont that he can run all day.

Made to be the butt of jokes, First Dude is fulfilling the potential so many saw with his excellent Preakness runner-up.  First Dude might never be a world-beater, but he's a very solid handicap horse, and might be as close as we have to a division leader.

10 Jul 2011 2:04 AM

Twirling Candy = LeBron James

10 Jul 2011 3:19 AM

Thoughts on the HGC. First Dude is your leading older male. Other than Twirling Candy he is the only horse to repeat in graded stakes for older males this year. His new style make him extremely dangerous, who would have thought that giant would have that good of a turn of foot?

Game On Dude should be considered second or close to the top of the division. He nearly took the HGC along with the Big Cap and seems to be at his best going 10f. He has some grit and showed that if you give him the lead and try to do an eye to eye throwdown he is not gonna let you pass. The way to get past him is to fly up, where he can't see you.

Twirling Candy is still one tough customer. He does NOT have limitations. He finishes second by a neck in a 3 horse finish and ran 10f in roughly 2.01.67. Since when is that limitations? Also remember he was giving 4lbs to Game on Dude and 6lbs to First Dude. IMO he is better over conventional dirt and at his best over turf.

10 Jul 2011 8:41 AM


And, Dude!

Nice win!

Zookeeper...Runflatout did great, but they might want to shorten his distance along with Twirling Candy who really tired forced to go too far.  

And Sylvester...I haven't seen the colts and horses run nearly as fast as the don't count out Blind Luck or Havre De Grace just yet.

And Aidan O'Brien is bringing the heaviest ammunition to the BC.  Cape Blanco just crushed our champion Gio Ponti.  

Dr. D.:  DUDE    ;D

10 Jul 2011 9:38 AM
calico cat

Big thanks to all of you who posted good wishes for Runflatout in the Swaps. The result was very disappointing. He looked so good before the race that my expectations were very high. He tried... but 1 1/8 miles seems too far for him at this stage (and maybe forever). I'm counting my blessings that he came back safe and sound.

The Dudes Gold Cup was a real thriller (except for the excessive whipping by Martin Garcia). Game on Dude was really "game" to hang in there pressured all the way by Twirling Candy. Very exciting finish!!!


Have a great vacation. Hope you have a wonderful time! :)  

10 Jul 2011 9:40 AM

PS: I was really pulling for Coil in the Swaps...there was just too much special about his sire.

And the best run of the day came from ....Sassy Image....Wow!

10 Jul 2011 9:44 AM
Smoking Baby

I thought I read somewhere that Noble's Promise was the best horse in the world at six furlongs.  I'm looking at the chart and it seems he got outrun by more than Twirling Candy did.  As disappointed as I was I did think Twirling Candy ran big.  Sometimes you get beat.  That's the reality.  Noble's Promise?  LOL

10 Jul 2011 10:32 AM
Smoking Baby

 I can hear the Gold Cup winner's circle now.  "I'm The Dude, so that's what you call me.  Or His Dudeness, or Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."

10 Jul 2011 10:35 AM

The male handicap division has no horses at 1 1/4 that are superior,on either coast.I am not conviced that Blind Luck and Harve De Grace are even superior in their own league nothing close to Zenyatta at 20 starts and 19 wins with one 2nd.

10 Jul 2011 12:03 PM

I would like to know where the so-called handicap action is on the east coast.  Sorry, but the better handicap horses, especially going 10F, are on the west coast.  Bring Flat Out, out west please, the Dudes need some lunch.

Equal weights in the HGC might have made a difference yesterday, but I don't think TC is a true 10F horse.  Now more than ever I would switch him to turf and cut him back to the mile distance.

Noble’s Promise would have won the Smile for fun at CD.  Calder is a tough track for some to handle and he didn’t have the kick I thought he was capable of.  The winner looked good but once again had to run past a west coast horse to get the victory.

10 Jul 2011 1:26 PM
Mike Relva


Regarding your comment for Dublin and his HOF trainer. Never was sold on him anyway last year. I don't pay attention/follow everything  I hear ,form my own opinion.

10 Jul 2011 2:05 PM

I didn't know you bet on California races Draynay. Glad to see you're raising your standards. I bet you enjoyed your exacta box almost as much as I enjoyed mine in the Wood Memorial. By the way, how is Uncle Slow doing? Wasn't he going to win the Triple Crown? LOL. Hate to break it to you, but the Dudes are in Baffert's barn which makes them West Coast horses. Don't be surprised when California takes all the Eclipse Awards once again! Oh, and did you forget that First Dude got smoked last year by a certain California mare who is regarded as one of the greatest of all time?

10 Jul 2011 4:36 PM
Jason Shandler

Hey everyone: I am on vacation beginning July 11 and I return July 20. I have two guest blogs lined up--GunBow for Tuesday and Keelerman for Friday. Enjoy and play nicely. Talk to you when I get back.

10 Jul 2011 5:16 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I wouldn't say that Twirling Candy is that bad yet !!!!! Why they don't point to the dirt mile is beyond me. Seems ideal. That's great news that Uncle Mo could possibly be in the King's Bishop. Is The Factor still pointed to that race? Dream matchup but if The Factor is the same dude then I'd be afraid of him if I was anyone else.


   Dude !!!!!!!

10 Jul 2011 5:20 PM

So now that Sidney's Candy is in Pletcher's barn he's an "East" horse? I seriously doubt many west coasters feel that way.

10 Jul 2011 5:35 PM

To imply all synthetics are the same is madness. The Breeders Cup took place on Pro-Ride which was a track that had a strong biased towards turf runners and closers. Del Mar is just flat out weird, but HP's Cushion Track is the one that is the fairest and closest to dirt. From what I have seen it is much easier for a dirt horse to run over HP and do well than it was on Pro-Ride. I also noticed that the runners that ran well over that track typically did well when shipping to run over dirt.

10 Jul 2011 5:44 PM

Enjoy your vacation Jason.

Gun Bow, its now clear that 'Twirling' isn't the sweetest 'Candy' after all.  I feel like shouting I told you so (watch out for Sidney's Candy in the Whitney-that's going to be THE race of the summer).  TC appears to be a very good colt up to nine furlongs but is nothing special going ten.  Perhaps like First Dude, if John Sadler can get him to become a closer he could really sparkle at the classic distance, seeing that he was allowing weight all around and only loss narrowly.  When coming from behind he looks very classy so maybe his running style can be successfully tweaked with a little patience.  Twirling Candy is obviously not yet a finished article but there's still time for him to be a serious part of the Breeder's Cup Classic scenario.

Dr Drunkinbum, regarding Uncle Mo's return in time for the King's Bishop; very interesting, but will any 3YO below peak form have a shot against Flashpoint at sprint distances?  Short of being at their very best neither Uncle Mo nor The Factor will hold any terror for John Fort's burly grey beast IMO.

10 Jul 2011 7:28 PM

Mike you'll be my biggest fan after next weekend.  Havre De Grace will beat Blind Luck easily and Blind Luck will then by pointed to the Ladies Classic where she'll get dusted by Awesome Maria.  Hear me now and believe me later.

10 Jul 2011 8:19 PM
Mike Relva


TC has a ton of talent,not everyone can get 10f. He didn't lose by 10, just a head.

10 Jul 2011 9:20 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Form could easily be the factor for Flashpoint, and he's no slouch. He's in the same classification of a possible sprint monster. I assume it's a stepping stone for Mo to at least a mile although I suspect the Classic distance is still a goal for them. And what about Indiano who had the most impressive sprint win yesterday in my opinion. He could be up there with them. 3 and up, I love what is happening in the sprint division. We could see something special in the BC Sprint this year if they all stay healthy. With Twirling Candy I also believe that he needs to close at 10f to have a better chance. He's learning to relax more so a 10f win is possible. I'd enter the BC dirt mile with him and let him lead or press in that one.

10 Jul 2011 9:56 PM


I didn't meant to be totally dismissive, but First Dude was just coming off a successful trip back East.  

And, it would be hard to blame Baffert or Donald Dizney if they keep First Dude in California through the summer given the Pacific Classic is a $1 million race at 10 furlongs.  $1 million is still alot of money, and we know First Dude loves the distance.  The Whitney and Woodward are grand races, but the Whitney is coming up too soon, and the Woodward is at 9 furlongs and offers $250k less than the Pacific Classic.  The only concern about the Pacific Classic is whether First Dude likes Del Mar's Polytrack.  Obviously, First Dude can run on synthetics, but Cushion Track is more like dirt than Polytrack is, and First Dude's effort over Keeneland's Poly in the Blue Grass was one of his less impressive efforts last year.

I do think Twirling Candy should head East.  If, as expected, Sadler points Twirling Candy for races shorter than 10 furlongs, there is really nothing on the schedule for him in California until the Goodwood(or Clement Hirsch if they go turf).  A race like the Woodward would seem to be ideal for Twirling Candy, or he could shoot for mile turf races with the Woodbine Mile and/or Shadwell Mile ultimate objectives.  If they think Twirling Candy can get 10 furlongs on turf, there is always the Arlington Million.

10 Jul 2011 10:52 PM

Have a great vacation Jason

10 Jul 2011 10:54 PM


I was never out pushing Twirling Candy.  I've been relatively skeptical of him. So, I don't know if you would be telling me anything new.

But, yes, I'm also skeptical of Sidney's Candy.  I guess he's going in the Whitney.  Perhaps Pletcher can get something more out of him, but until I see it I'm going to expect Sidney to give up leads in deep stretch.  

I think Sidney's best chance in a race like the Whitney is to just go out there and gun early to get some separation and build a decisive lead entering the stretch.  Backing things up on the lead will keep the closers within striking distance, and I contend that if a quality horse is within 2 lengths of Sidney entering the stretch, Sidney will cough up the lead.  

Yet, I do like Sidney and will be rooting for him to do well in the Whitney.  I have seen Sidney win 4 graded stakes in person, and became a fan after the San Vicente(go back in the archives to see my thoughts of that race).

10 Jul 2011 11:02 PM

Twirling Candy, Rachel Alexandra, Uncle Mo, Shackleford, The oh man.....these are the same mundane 9 furlong horses that we have been we have day dreamers that believe Havre de Grace or Blind luck are that great and will be in the Breeders Classic....

Zenyatta only comes along once in  a lifetime....

11 Jul 2011 12:13 AM
Rachel NH

Gunbow, i love yah, but Game on Dude is a fighter and "wants" 10 and a fighting head behind TC gets the book closed on him? seriousy "dude?" (sorry couldn't resist, lol.)

PS I thought you loved the horses...what did TC ever do to you to deserve being compared to LJ? ;-)

Zookeeper, another day to race! What could be better!

11 Jul 2011 6:19 AM

Twirling Candy = Quality Road. Same style, same limitations. A toss in the BC Classic.

11 Jul 2011 8:49 AM
Linda in Texas

GunBow - did not realize Game on Dude had never raced on synthetics. And First Dude hadn't in 15 months. That is interesting.

I was hoping GOD (sorry could not resist) would cross the wire first as winning wire to wire, but his stable mate First Dude knew he had to live up to his name or he would never hear the end of it back at Baffert's stable. :)

Runflatout - Zookeeper, he ran a great race. When he was being squeezed on the rail, he threw his head somewhat and was not thinking nice thoughts to the horse that was squeezing him, and rallied to get his own space. Each race builds his stamina, he seems to enjoy being in the lead and i think perhaps a shorter race would suit him. Please know i am no expert, not a trainer but just an observer.

We all want to see Runflatout win one and we will. I guess i am saying he is not a closer or a stalker.

Watching the Man O'War and Spencer on Cape Blanco was okay, he won. However, the horse was racing as fast as he could and Spencer was still whacking him as they went across the finish line. Looked like double time whipping to me, but then someone said it doesn't hurt the horse! I thought he used the whip excessively. JMO

Dr. D. - your Dude post was cool, Dude. As i have posted before, i like the dudes and to come in 1 and 2 was a pleasure to watch.

Have a great vacation Jason.

11 Jul 2011 9:44 AM

Flashpoint is a sprinter trained by WW and like most of his horses he is a very good gate horse,thats Mr. Wards strategy teach em to break quick, and jump out to the lead.As far as running against the Factor and a recovering 1st race sprint comeback for Mo,I think I would take the Factor without knowing track bias if any,and post positions.The Factor did set a track record in a sprint.

11 Jul 2011 10:27 AM
Smoking Baby

 I remember when Quality Road got beat in the Whitney.  He put up NO fight.  Blame just ran right by him once he caught up.  Then I had  to read again and again how he was carrying five more pounds than the winner and how that was the difference at a mile and an eighth.  All of which brings me to Saturday's Gold Cup.  As I wrote earlier I was in fact disappointed that Twirling Candy didn't dust the field and I do admit he might not be quite as good as all the hype.  The fact remains that Twirling Candy DID fight it out and give his best the length of the stretch while giving SIX pounds to the winner and FOUR pounds to the Big 'Cap winner.  If conceding five pounds makes all the difference when it's Quality Road at a mile and an eighth shouldn't giving away six pounds at a mile and a quarter also provide at least some excuse for Twirling Candy getting beat a long head?  Or do the rules only apply when it's a horse you like?  Twirling Candy is a Graded Stakes winner on all three surfaces and  wins nearly twice as often as he gets beat.  Take a quick look at this years top ten money earners.  Most of them get outrun more often than they win.  And if you are thinking about replying that dirt is the only surface that matters remember that the next time you start crowing about Goldikova again.  If that same mare was from California we'd be hearing about how she never runs on dirt or never wins beyond a mile and an eighth GUARANTEED.  My point is that Twirling Candy is a real nice colt, maybe, even probably not as good as all the hype but I'd bet he perfoms better in the Classic (assuming he's lucky enough to get there) than Quality Road did.  I haven't read EVEN ONE post where someone admitted that Quality Road wasn't quite the second coming he was hyped to be but hey...We was from the East and was in Pletcher's barn so he gets a pass?  WOW...Took a little turn to the dark side there.  I guess I need some coffee.  Sorry folks, I'm just saying.

11 Jul 2011 11:39 AM
It aint easy being good!

You want to hear triple crown blues. I used to bet online and I get an email saying that sportsbook was bought out and you should pull your money! I live in MN and there is a government shutdown so no racing and no simulcasting...FML!

11 Jul 2011 1:43 PM

Why didn't they put Twirling Candy on the lead?  The pace was not fast and he has much better early speed than Game On Dude.  It might have been a different outcome if they let him use his speed to his advantage instead of trying to rate him off a moderate pace.  It seems to me that a horse like him has to be allowed to run his "natural' race.  Maybe I'm wrong, but with no dominant speed in the race you would think they would have wanted to be the controlling speed.

11 Jul 2011 5:11 PM

And the Dudes have it!!!  First Dude is a big boy.  I saw him last year in NY and NJ, big striding boy which I think gives him the edge in striking.  Weren't "the Dudes" kind of second string behind Lucky last year?  The Dudes and Twirling Candy weren't all that far apart in distance in the H Gold Cup but FD has more of that closing ability.

How about a round of applause for this Awesome Gem and his owners?  This guy has been running straight since he ran with Curlin and SS in the BC some 4 years ago!!!  Awesome Gem is like the energizer bunny, keeps going, doesn't come in the money too often but he's been running a long time and that deserves some kudos.

First Dude appears to be taking the older male champ honors so far. I'm more excited to hear about Uncle Mo's return!  Yippeeee!

He ships today to Saratoga I believe.  He'll love it up there at the Spa.  I pray he thrives and gets redemption in the second half of the year since he was robbed of his first half by illness.  Go Mo!!!  Welcome back Mo!!!  "Dude's gonna look like a lady" if Mo returns but then again the ladies could take it all!!!!!!!!!!!

11 Jul 2011 8:51 PM

Gun Bow,

I liked your analysis of First Dude's running style and describing to us that he is a herd runner and able to gear up and respond again as the herd passes him as a target.  Very interesting.  And very different from Shackleford, and I wonder what these 2 would do if they meet up in the BC Classic?  Shackleford's style is more like "I will NOT run with the pack.  I will not look down or run on the same ground with the rest as long as there are limitless open spaces."  Something to that effect is a quote from Vincent Price in Dragonwyck which reminds me so much of Shack's running style.  Add Mo to the mix and maybe some of the returning injured troops like PrePeg and foot resting Soldat and we could have ourselves a great BC Classic with even a filly in the mix and some Euro invaders as well.

At this point though, only one this is for sure from this weekend, Bob Baffert and First Dude, are looking mighty good, and "all duded up!"  Congrats to both!

11 Jul 2011 9:20 PM

Jason, have a great vacation.

12 Jul 2011 12:50 AM

It wasn't the first time DRYSDALE rained on the Swaps.  Prized beat a weary legged Sunday Silence.

Baffert has a habit or turning east coast "Re-Treads" into champions.  POTN steps out of the Mott trailer and becomes an instant Derby favotite (winning over 1 million before the Derby even starts!!!).

12 Jul 2011 2:14 PM

Excuse me Draynay but I must have missed your mention of First Dude.

Please point out where you picked him prior to the race.

I sort of laugh at the comments about some of these horses. I would gladly wager that most if not all of you would love to have the money that these horses earn in these big races.  

So funny.

12 Jul 2011 9:30 PM

Just for some clarification on my post above, "Dragonwyck" is an old movie from maybe the 40's with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price.  He plays a rich land baron in NY and there is that famous speech he does in it where he begs to be different and not run with the pack.  It describes Shack's running style to me.

13 Jul 2011 6:47 PM

Twirling Candy got a better RPR(Racing Post Rating) than both Dude's so they factored in the weight carried.

13 Jul 2011 11:56 PM

Smoking Baby- I agree.  Twirling Candy ran a better race at 10 furlongs than Quality Road ever did.  I still feel they need to use his natural speed to his advantage.  BTW- I just looked at the RPR rankings at the Racing Post and Twirling Candy was rated 3 lbs better than Game on Dude and 5 lbs better than First Dude for the race.  They take weight carried into account.  Interesting.

14 Jul 2011 12:10 AM

Sadler already has said they are going to "re-examine" the distance with Twirling Candy.  Most likely BC Dirt Mile.

14 Jul 2011 2:14 PM

Recent Posts



More Blogs