Sidney's Candy Will be a Second-Half Force

Newsflash: Todd Pletcher is a pretty good trainer and horses tend to move up when he gets them in his barn.

Prediction: Sidney's Candy will have a monster second half.

Opinion: Sidney's Candy is the most talented horse in the country.

Okay, so the opinion is a bold one, especially for a horse that has just one grade III turf win through seven months of the season. But given what I've seen so far (including the numerous injuries), Sidney's Candy's versatility and speed, and Pletcher's ability to improve horses, I think he will prove it by the end of the year.

In his Fourstardave win Sunday at Saratoga, Sidney's Candy could not have had things any easier on the front end and quite honestly, did not have much to hold off in the stretch. On paper, having to run a : 25.83, :50.49, and 1:14.35 was unimpressive, but realize that this is a horse that has shown the ability to run :22 and change, :45, and 1:08 and change, and still go on. So the slow pace actually may have been a deterrent in the Fourstardave. And when asked in the stretch, he quickened and responded well. Mission accomplished.

Make no mistake, Sidney's Candy is a serious talent. He showed that as a 3-year-old when he won three straight graded races in California including the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby by 4 1/2 lengths. His failed Kentucky Derby effort, which was a complete toss given the circumstances of breaking from post 20 and being ridden hard on a quick pace, is the only bad effort of his career. And take nothing away from John Sadler, but this horse should perform better under Pletcher.

The options for Sidney's Candy are limitless given his versatility. He can pretty much run on any surface from seven to 10 furlongs. Right after the Fourstardave, Pletcher mentioned the seven-furlong Forego and the nine-furlong Woodward as the two options for his next race. WinStar president Elliott Walden echoed those thoughts Tuesday.

"We're very pleased with (the Fourstardave)," Walden said. "Any time you run a horse for the first time you're nervous, especially at 2-5 (odds). But he did it pretty easily and he galloped out well afterward. He came out of the race well.

"We talked about the Whitney, but in retrospect, given the huge field and it being his first race for us, we thought this was the easier spot to get started. Todd is still trying to get a feel for him and we are still trying to get a feel for him.

"He's so versatile, that's the nice thing about him. As we get closer and we see how he works on dirt and we get more comfortable with him, we'll find the right spot."

Walden said the Woodward is probably the more appealing race if they are going to take a run at Horse of the Year, but the Forego might be a better option in terms of his stallion worth. As far as going on to the BC Classic later in the year, that is not out of the question but probably unlikely at this point.

"I think he is a brilliant miler," Walden said. "Do I think he can stretch his speed to a mile and an eighth, yeah. A mile and quarter, I'm not sure. I'm not saying he can't either but it's probably not (his ideal distance)."

Personally, I'd like to see Sidney's Candy go in the Sept. 3 Woodward and take a shot at the Jockey Club Gold Cup after that. I would understand if they didn't want to stretch him out beyond nine furlongs, but I don't see anyone else in the handicap division that would scare me away from trying, and the Horse of the Year title is ripe for the taking. He won't have a chance by sprinting. Plus, looking ahead, I'm not so sure they want to take on Goldikova in the BC Mile again. The BC Dirt is an option, but that doesn't really inspire me.

Wherever he winds up, Sidney's Candy should be a force.

55 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Bob from Boston

Sydney's Candy will lose to Stay Thirsty if they meet.  Zenyatta was a state champion poly horse.  Now, stay away Dray.  Why is everyone so angry around here lately?  Ted from LA would not approve.  Now turn those frowns upside down and put on a happy face.

02 Aug 2011 2:31 PM
2:24

I liked Sidney's Candy alot last year before the Triple Crown races.  Now, I'm less impressed.  Certainly would not be surprised if he became a force but to me he seems more like another Candy, of the Twirling variety, in that he can dominate races against soft competition but generally struggles when going up against quality opposition.  Just my opinion.

02 Aug 2011 3:31 PM
Smoking Baby

 I tend to agree Jason.  The possiblity is certainly there for Sidney's Candy to re-establish himself as one of the better horses in the nation.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

02 Aug 2011 3:33 PM
Runfast159

I have always really liked this horse, and greatly anticipated his debut under Pletcher.  I for one was worried more by the slow pace in the Fourstardave, his style is to run his opposition off their feet, not lull them by slow fractions.  But he showed he is clearly the best and with not much in the male handicap division he can pretty much go wherever he wants to.

One of the things I value the most in racehorses is consistency and try.  Sidney's Candy, Blind Luck, Havre de Grace and Shackleford possess those qualities.  My wish is for them all to stay sound and race through the rest of the year!

02 Aug 2011 3:42 PM
Footlick

Nice to see this Jason.  Sidney's Candy's work was huge before the Fourstardave.  The move to Pletcher is a positive.  I think if they allowed him to use his speed to his advantage instead of trying to rate him to set slower fractions the BC Turf Mile would be within his reach.  If he can set quick fractions and open up on the far turn like he did at DelMar he could very well hold off the onslaught of fast finishers.  But that is just my opinion.

02 Aug 2011 3:53 PM
Draynay

Bob, you forgot (restricted) poly champion.  Flat Out is currently the best older horse in the USA.

02 Aug 2011 4:14 PM
josh

Jason,

Is Coil your pick for champion 3 YO male?

Good argument for sidney's candy, however, I think that he will not be suited for 1 1/4 IMO He will end up in one of the mile races probably the dirt mile, because of the strong euro presence in the turf mile.

02 Aug 2011 4:36 PM
tanzab

Let's not forget the great job that John Sadler did with this colt before he was shipped East.  I agree that he is not a 1 1/4 horse and is not suited to the BC Classic

02 Aug 2011 6:31 PM
Stevebiscuit

Sidney's Candy is a classic example of how Pletcher inherits good horses rather than train them. You give Mr. Pletcher way too much credit. Last time I checked, Sidney's Candy already was a force to be reckoned with and the only thing his win in the grade 3 Fourstardave confirmed was that Todd Pletcher hasn't screwed him up...yet!

02 Aug 2011 6:37 PM
Jason Shandler

Steve: Your jealousy of Pletcher knows no bounds. Sad.

Dray: Youre on. Coil over Shack in Travers.

Josh: Yes. If Coil, Shack, Stay Thirsty or Ruler On Ice wins the Travers and no 3YO wins the BC Classic, one of them will be 3YO champ. Coil is my pick.

02 Aug 2011 7:19 PM
Draynay

Let me do you another favor Jason.  2nd race at Saratoga bet the house on Al Mudeer for the win.  Shack looked VERY similar to Curlin in the Haskell...guess what Curlin did the rest of the year.

02 Aug 2011 7:57 PM
Johnny

WOW Sidneys Candy more talented than Uncle Mo?

Team Repole approve of this comment??

02 Aug 2011 8:15 PM
Guiness

Jason, I knew you were gonna be a BIG Coil fan when I learned who his father is!!!  

I know you will be his biggest fan to date. He's definitely a Point Given.

02 Aug 2011 9:47 PM
Ranagulzion

Jason,

This is a quite provocative column ...stirring up the pot with some sweet candy talk.  Well I quite agree with your outlook.  With his fitness and confidence back there'll be no stopping this "Candy" juggernaut.  I like that Pletcher opted to start him off in the Fourstardave (although I really wanted to see him pitted against Tizway in the Whitney).  His next move should be to the Woodward then for a romp in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and unto either the Breeder's Cup Classic or to settle accounts with Goldi in the grass mile (I actually prefer the latter), which should see him wrap up HOTY assuming he wins them all.  This is my estimation of Sidney's Candy's talent.  He can do it if he remains sound.  Tizway looks to be his main rival for HOTY at this stage.  That one has the Whitney in his back pocket in Sidney's Candy's absence IMO.

02 Aug 2011 10:12 PM
Jason Shandler

Guiness: I started following Coil when he broke his maiden in November and when I learned Baffert bought him I knew he must be good.

02 Aug 2011 10:13 PM
Paula Higgins

Sidney's Candy certainly seems to be benefiting from being with Todd Pletcher. ITA Jason. That was an impressive race. Is he better than some of the others who are peaking right now? Not so sure. Plus. don't forget the girls. Bob from Boston/Ted from LA, you are so right. I am going to start dispensing Prozac if it keeps up. Speaking of Bob Baffert who everyone is so high on right now (and rightly so), he used to go and watch Zenyatta train and race for the pure joy of it. He was in awe of her. Just sayin.

02 Aug 2011 10:50 PM
thomas

ugh dray just put the horns on flatout smh. i hope they run sidney in the wood but i can understand if they don't.

03 Aug 2011 1:48 AM
JJW

Stay Thirsty is a lock to win the Travers and Jockey Club. Nobody will beat him in New York. He'll win the award for best 3-year-old, but Blind Luck will be HOY after she wins the Pacific Classic and BC Ladies Classic or Classic, whichever she goes in.

03 Aug 2011 2:01 AM
GunBow

I'm more dubious of Sidney's Candy, and think he'll give it up in the stretch if you can get within striking distance.  However, like in the American Cap with Liberian Freighter, the horse that pushes Sidney early typically isn't the same horse running him down late.

I will echo the thoughts of others that Sidney won the Fourstardave DESPITE those slow fractions.  The only thing fractions that slow did was allow inferior horses to hang around and have a shot, albeit a small shot, in the stretch.  Sidney could have comfortably gone 2 seconds faster early, for a half in about 48 that would have still been slow by his standards, and had the race won before rounding the far turn.

A Sidney-Get Stormy matchup would be fun.  My predicition is that the presence of Get Stormy could certainly get Sidney beat, but it won't be Get Stormy in the winner's circle; Sidney will finish infront of Get Stormy.

At a mile on turf, I have Sidney as the #2 North American behind Courageous Cat.

03 Aug 2011 4:27 AM
Giddyup

If Sidney's Candy is the most talented horse in the country it must be because he has some card dealing or saxophone playing skills I am not aware of. He probably is a crack handicapper too. You should get him as a guest on your next show while you still can Jason.

03 Aug 2011 9:28 AM
trackjack

Sidney's Candy is a true miler and his connections should keep him there, dirt or turf.  The best sires are true milers and for the success of SC's breeding career, keep him at a mile.

I blew it big time on Coil, tossing him because of his lack of dirt races, as I did with AK in ther Derby. His Haskell win was more impressive than AK's Derby, mainly because of the bad start and Coil having to re-adjust his style in one fell swoop.  Taking the blinkers off obviously was a smart move.  Looking forward to the Travers, hope Coil and Stay Thirsty meet, Coil to win.

03 Aug 2011 10:06 AM
AnneM

The older male horse division is mediocre. The best in the country right now are the older fillies/mares. Blind Luck should end up being HOY - who can top her right now?

03 Aug 2011 12:30 PM
Carlos in Cali

When Sidney's Candy was sent to Pletcher I said he'd look like Man O' War because the Handicap division out there is weak.Don't expect him to win the JCGC,let alone the BCC... he's not a 10f horse.

The older horse division should be thankfull First Dude is gone,I thought he was the outright leader of the group after his HGC victory and his prior win @ Churchill against basically the same horses entered in the Woodward.He was a different animal under Baffert's care who has a solid track record of moving horses up.... way up.

Coil,Stay Thirsty & Shackleford are the top 3yo's by default because of the decimating injuries earlier this year... now that's sad! Imagine if Tapizar,Premier Pegasus,UM,Dialed In,Toby's Corner,Animal Kingdom and the rapidly improving Arthur's Tale weren't on the sidelines and pointing towards the Travers?..

03 Aug 2011 1:42 PM
Johnny

Draynay with another winner..

LOL

03 Aug 2011 2:01 PM
NEHF

News flash:Pletcher should get his license pulled for the prank he pulled at the Kentucky derby. He has a history of letting the other guy take the fall when it's the trainers call. He let the jockey take a $ 10,000 hit when he should have taken a $ 100,000 hit. Lets see the statistics on all the horses he's trained and what his win stats really are. Lets see just how magnums this trainer really is. Getting a horse that previously ran a 22 and change 1/4 to run a 25 & 4 1/4 is not anything to write home about folks. Thats going the wrong way. You turn those numbers around going from 25 to 22 and now you got a real trainer.

03 Aug 2011 2:02 PM
Jason Shandler

NEHF: You should get your blog license revoked for making ridiculous statements. Do us a favor, look up Pletcher's stats and get back to us please. I'm curious to see what you come up with. Here's a hint: start with his graded stakes wins, grade I wins, champions, BC wins, trainer's titles, Eclipse Awards, and career earnings. Thanks, in advance.

03 Aug 2011 3:42 PM
Stevebiscuit

If I'm jealous of anyone Jason it's Bob Baffert. Pletcher isn't half the trainer Baffert is.

03 Aug 2011 4:05 PM
Carlos in Cali

Correction: I meant the Whitney,not Woodward.

03 Aug 2011 4:32 PM
John from Seattle

Sorry Jason, but your message comes across as both weak and apologetic.  You do a bad job of trying to selling me with Syndey's Candy.

There is no meat on the bone.  Come back when the horse wins a big race.

03 Aug 2011 7:09 PM
Jason Shandler

John: Come back when you make something, anything, close to a point.

03 Aug 2011 7:34 PM
Racingfan

Hey Dray:  I took the time to look up the results of your sure thing: Al Mudeer was fourth.  Sure hope Jason didn't bet the house.....LOL

03 Aug 2011 9:56 PM
Ranagulzion

Sidney's Candy looks poised to fulfill the promise he showed as a 3YO before he flopped in the slop of the Kentucky Derby 2010.  He was hampered by unsoundness in the past but at his very best he carries his intimidating early speed a long way and kicks hard up the lane.  With Storm Cat close up in his pedigree, his stamina for 10 furlongs may be suspect but last year not many people guessed that Haynesfield (son of Speightstown) could carry his speed successfully in the JCGC.  Sidney's Candy will be more devastating than Haynesfield if his connections have the courage to send him 10 Furlongs.  A victory there would set him up for HOTY honours and he could then go on to meet 'Goldi' for a rematch in the Turf mile without jeopardising his HOTY claim by opting out of the BCC. The upcoming Whitney will tell us a lot abouit his main rival Tizway (this one is an absolute beast this year).

03 Aug 2011 10:52 PM
Bob from Boston

John from Seattle,

Welcome to my blog.  I see you came out swinging at my assistant Jason.  Be careful.  Jason will rope-a-dope you into submission (usually on Preakness weekend).  Take on Draynay and work your way up the ladder to Dr. D and then Ted from LA, mz, trackjack (Road to the Roses Champion trackjack from THE Ohio State I might add) and Single in LA.  Never enter the ring with Paula Higgins.  She will beat you to death with a mint julep glass.  I like your pseudonym.  Bob/Ted from Boston/LA respect that.  Who is your favorite horse running right now?  Again, welcome.  If you've been here for years, I apologize.  I really only read my own posts.  My #1 goal in life is to be the first poster on each of these blogs.  As you can see, I have been hugely successful.  My #2 goal is to punch Mario Lopez or any member of the cast from Jersey Shore in the head with Paula's mint julep glass, and I am a pacifist... prone to violence.

03 Aug 2011 11:43 PM
NEHF

Dear Jason Shandler, I looked up pletchers stats and it still shows he should have been the one to get the fine for racing an unfit horse. Yes Jason the horse was unfit according to the judges that fined the JOCKEY not the trainer that entered him unfit. Pletcher entered that horse and Pletcher should be the responsible party. Look at what Pletcher did for the Kentucky derby. No way the field should have been 19 horses. Pletcher ROBBED another horse and trainer of they're rightful opportunity to have run in the 2011 Kentucky derby and yes somehow I still feel turning a 22 second quarter horse into a 25 second quarter horse is a bit backward. GET OFF THE TODD PLETCHER GLORY TRAIN

04 Aug 2011 1:15 AM
Smoking Baby

 I'm not really responding to anyone's specific post, I just want to try to make a point.  Pletcher can train.  Make no mistake, you don't get to that level much less remain there without having some game.  I've read that he can instantly recall little details about every horse in his care whether it's Uncle Mo or some lesser known horse.  Like him or don't like him.  That is each individual's own choice.  Myself, I don't like him necessarily as much as some others do, but saying the dude's not a good trainer is like saying Kobe Bryant isn't a good basketball player. Just my opinion for what it's worth.

04 Aug 2011 8:46 AM
Jason Shandler

NEHF: Let's see how the rest of Sidney's Candy's career goes under Pletcher. As for his stats, what did you find?

04 Aug 2011 8:56 AM
It aint easy being good!

Pletcher is so overrated I dont know why you guys like him so much. Bob Baffert owns Pletcher and everyone else right now. BB is on a roll! Having said that I also like Sidneys Candy he is a horse that has run on 3 different surfaces and has won on all of them. He is alot better on Turf then dirt though. I think SC would best be served in a turf sprint around 6 or 7f.

04 Aug 2011 11:12 AM
Sparney

Jason,

I've always loved Sid the Kid and Sadler.  CA guy here who just got into racing 3 years ago.  (Had the tri in the 2008 Classic... first race ever.  $3 tri also.)  So let's just say it's been all downhill from there.  

Keep on fighting the good fight for us CA guys.  We get ZERO respect.  Also, keep an eye on Burns.... 2nd in the Oceanside on opening day.  And was coming strong after Mr. Commons.  

Thanks buddy.

04 Aug 2011 11:25 AM
Draynay

Tubo Decent and Flat Out DD !!!

04 Aug 2011 11:56 AM
LAZMANNICK

Draynay

Rail Trip will throw a screw into your DD or should I say Dunh Dunh.

04 Aug 2011 2:23 PM
Mike Relva

Pretty certain SC was already established prior to entering the royal barn of Pletcher.

04 Aug 2011 3:00 PM
Mike Relva

NEHF

Don't you get it,some believes he's God. I don't.

04 Aug 2011 3:03 PM
Carlos in Cali

Sparney,

Let me clarify:  Jason dislikes all bloggers from CA.(especially jayjay) because Zenyatta was based here.The only things he likes about Cali is the Lakers,weather,Cougars with stab wounds & multiple personalities and streaking down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena chasing RuPaul.

Odd?..yes! But,you've been warned.

Am I right on the money or what Jason?..

04 Aug 2011 4:39 PM
Mary Zinke

Mr.Shandler is 100% correct about Sidney's Candy. His Fourstardave win was no effort to him. He could have turned on that burst of speed anytime. Take a look at his La Jolla from last summer. That is how a front-running turf horse should look I could watch that race a million times and be thrilled at each viewing. Now that Sidney's Candy is an East coast horse, but with West coast roots, no one can complain, but yet they do. Why? Afraid of some speed?  Love, love, love the Candy boys, but my favorite is Sidney's Candy the new millionaire. He's no slouch on dirt or syn, either, but so gorgeous on turf!

DD, girl friend, where do we find Whitney picks to steal?

04 Aug 2011 6:40 PM
Jason Shandler

I only like the Lakers when they play the Celtics but I do love Cali. Not my fault the racing is inferior :)

04 Aug 2011 9:17 PM
Paula Higgins

Bob from Boston/Ted from LA please don't ever stop posting here. You are one of the funniest people on the planet. As for Jersey Shore (my niece had it one one night), I have never seen a dumber, more vacuous, more annoying bunch of kids in my life. It should be illegal to be that stupid and shallow. So, I will mail you my mint julep glass.....and a hammer.

04 Aug 2011 9:28 PM
Guiness

Jason,  Can you tell me is Big Brown back in the states now or is he still in Australia?  

Can someone enlighten me on this?

04 Aug 2011 9:53 PM
SouthernChris

I suspect the only reason the blogger is lavishing praise on Sidney's Candy is because now he's on the East coast. Sidney's Candy has always been a freakishly fast and talented horse who knew how to win. It's not like Pletcher is inheriting a First Dude type of horse. With horses like SC one pretty much only has to keep them healthy, happy, and fit and they'll do the rest. Not trying to knock Pletcher, he's obviously good at what he does, but in the event Sidney wins some major East Coast races it would be Rachel Alexander/Steve Asmussen 2.0. A high profile trainer inheriting a superb horse who's already shown how awesome and talented they are prior to the high profile trainer.

05 Aug 2011 5:08 AM
Jason Shandler

Yeah Southern Chris, you're on to me. I've never "lavished praise" on any California horse before. That includes Coil, who I've written about extensively and Blind Luck, a filly that has actually traveled around the country to face top horses. And regarding Pletcher, he has surely never made lower level, mediocre, or top level horses better. There is no way that he can make Sidney Candy better, the same horse you claim "already knows how to win." For the record, Sidney's Candy has lost three races by a head or less. Sounds like there is room for improvement.

Youre right. Please continue hitting us with all your knowledge.

05 Aug 2011 10:00 AM
SouthernChris

I never said or implied that you never praised any California horse before. I'm not talking about any other California horse other than Sidney's Candy so your prior opinions on Coil/Blind Luck/whoever else are irrelevant. I specifically pointing out how SC moves East and now he's the second coming in your opinion. I have no doubt if SC remained with his previous connections there would be no "Sidney's Candy is the most talented horse in the country."

And, Einstein, a horse that wins 50% of his races knows how to win just because he lossed some close ones doesn't negate that face he's won half of his career starts, has won on turf, dirt, and synthetic surfaces. As I pointed out it's not like his career mirrored First Dude, a talented horse who couldn't seem to find the winner's circle. Reading comprehension, get some.

05 Aug 2011 10:30 AM
Jason Shandler

Southern Chris: Here's a little tip: If you're going to call someone Einstein, try not to spell the word "lost" lossed. It makes a mockery of everything else you write.

Second, you most certainly did imply that I have a bias towards East Coast horses. Go back and re-read your first sentence.

Finally, the horse will have more success under Pletcher. End of story. I have no more time for this nonsense.

05 Aug 2011 11:15 AM
Brian Appleton

Every good trainer winds up getting good horses transferred into their barns at some point or another because high-profile owners want to see the best results in their horses, and are willing to switch trainers to get it.

Pletcher established himself as a good trainer without riding the coat tails of great trainers work. Rags To Riches and Uncle Mo are just two recent horses to prove he can help a horse win a championship season from the ground up.

I like Baffert as a trainer better, but both deserve credit where it is due.

05 Aug 2011 1:06 PM
SouthernChris

Touche to the first point.

You do have a bias for the East Coast (there's nothing wrong with that) that is obvious to anyone who has read your blog, again I didn't imply you have never praised California horses. I said the only reason you're praising Sidney's Candy as the most talented horse in the country is because now he's on the East Coast with Pletcher. Talent by definition is a special natural ability so prior to changing connections you should have been boasting about him being the most talented in the country (this year.) The competition for that title is the same then as it is now. Maybe you have an even older blog post saying as much.

Unless you have a magic crystal ball you don't know what WILL happen. He can never win a single race again or heaven forbid injure himself and never race again. Two Words: Quality Road, a good, solid campaign but no where near one for the ages like you and others "predicted."

05 Aug 2011 1:43 PM
Footlick

Sidney's Candy actually reminds me of Precisionist.  Let's hope he ends up being as good.

05 Aug 2011 3:58 PM
JayJay

I see nothing's changed,  Jason's still hatin' on cali and draynay still can't pick a winner.  The thing is, cali horses travel to the east and dominates, I haven't heard any east coast horse travel to the west... them rockies must look really tough climbing over looking from the east coast side.  Or maybe, just maybe, there's NOTHING over there in the east coast (could explain why Jason now hangs on to westcoast horses) :)

I'll come back again when Draynay hits a winner (that's almost like a life ban hmmm... )

08 Aug 2011 12:21 AM

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