I Love Candy

by Becky Johnston

I admit it.  I am in love with a chestnut colt named Sidney’s Candy.  If he had a fan club, I would apply for presidency. 

Apparently, there is something wrong with that.  The other day, in passing, I mentioned to a wagering acquaintance that I was not just financially hoping Sidney’s Candy would win for my 33-1 payoff in the future book, it was more than that.  I feel an emotional attachment to the horse and I want to see him succeed.  Apparently, from his reply, there is something terribly wrong with that. “That’s nuts you only get emotionally attached if you own the horse”. 

Well sign me up with the nuts then.

What happened to the “romance of the sport”?  Have we gotten so caught up in takeouts, artificial surfaces, carryovers and the late pick four that we can no longer remember what it feels like to fall in love with a horse?

I doubt all the people that adored Seabiscuit were doing so because they cashed a $2 win ticket with a 5% takeout.  They loved him because it felt right.  It was fun, an escape. 

Del Mar
July 25, 2009, three years to the day that I lost my father, I placed a wager at Del Mar on a first time starter owned by Jenny Craig, named for her late husband Sid Craig.  I don’t know what I expected, but I don’t think I expected to be so smitten.

Sidney’s Candy’s pedigree read like a who’s who of horses that I have admired through the years.

We all know his sire, the 2003 Pacific Classic winner Candy Ride, but it was his grandsire, Ride the Rails, that stands out for me.  The son of Cryptoclearance took to the track on a perfect winter day in Florida.  As I clung to the outside rail he challenged and defeated the 1-9 two-year-old champion Dehere, in his seasonal debut at Gulfstream Park.

Gulfstream Park 1994 Allowance


Candy’s second dam, Exchange, was another favorite.  She won a solid half of her 24 starts in blue collar fashion, she earned them.  Here’s an example:

1994 Matriarch Stakes


“You just don’t go by Exchange.”  That’s right Trevor you just don’t.

Exchange only produced one foal, a filly by Storm Cat named Fair Exchange, the dam of Sidney’s Candy.

The Races

Sidney’s Candy broke on top in his first race, but settled nicely for Joe Talamo then came on again against the highly touted and speedy Bob Baffert trainee, Tiny Woods.  The chestnut colt fell just a neck short of the win at 10-1.

I hadn’t found a Derby contender this early since Summer Squall bulled his way through a field of bystanders in the Hopeful, August of 1989, but I knew this was THE one for me.

A little less than a month later, Sidney’s Candy was back in the gate, again breaking on top, but settling nicely.

Sidney’s Candy, Del Mar Race 7, Maiden Special Weight, August 22, 2009


“Moving like a winner.” Check

The two-year-old set the track record, but then news came that the colt had sore shins and was given time off.  I was disappointed when he didn’t make an appearance at the Oak Tree meet.  In fact, he didn’t appear again until an inauspicious start at Santa Anita on December 30th.  He was tardy at the break in a five horse field and the speedy Tiny Woods got the best of him again.  He managed only fourth.  A tired looking fourth, but nothing worse than that.

February 15 was the next circled date on his calendar, President’s Day.
San Vicente Stakes


“Annihilating them.” Check.

Then another month and he would try two turns for the first time.

San Felipe Stakes


“Full of Run.” Check.

With all eyes on the champion Lookin at Lucky, Sidney’s Candy’s next staggering performance took a backseat to controversy in April. 

Santa Anita Derby


“You’re going to have to pick up your feet if you want to catch me.”  Check.

At Present
Here I am, a nut.  A nut in love with a racehorse.  Check.

I don’t know what it is that makes us fall in love with certain horses nor why everyone doesn’t love the same one.  What’s more, I don’t care.

I would rather be labeled a silly horse loving girl than become an unaffected onlooker that simply shuffles money through a window or a broadband connection.  I don’t play slots, poker, blackjack or the lottery.  I am a wagering thoroughbred racehorse fan and a financial cog in the wheel.  I have been for almost 25 years.

Maybe I should have been offended by the slight.  Instead I feel sorry for anyone that can’t fall in love just a little bit with a horse like Sidney’s Candy.  This little colt has given my family and I a great ride these last few months. 
After the race is run, win, lose or draw, my brother from 600 miles away will call and we will talk about the race, we will remember the wonderful spring that the colt gave us and be thankful for everything he represents. 
Oh and one more thing, I will still be in love with a little red spark-plug of a colt named Sidney’s Candy.


Leave a Comment:

Blue Blue Sea

Couldn't agree more! Love to see someone writing about actually caring for the horse beyond just a betting interest - Alydar became my first head over heels horse race love and is the big reason I got so hooked on the sport. There's be a few others throughout the years that have kept that romance alive for me.

30 Apr 2010 11:56 AM

Thanks for this article! I'm in love with Sidney's Candy too. He feels like family-- my OTTB is related to Sidney's Candy through his female line Wooly Willow, so it's like his mitochondria running for the roses! I've been following him this year, and we're betting on Sidney's Candy to win. We won last year with Mine That Bird while watching the Kentucky Derby with a family member who passed with cancer two days later, it was his last lucid day and we're putting that money on Sidney's Candy this year. I'm going to cry if he wins and cry if he loses... can't wait till tomorrow!

30 Apr 2010 12:15 PM

This is wonderful. I love Sidney's Candy too, I hope he wins the Derby. All of my favorite horses are my favorites not because of any bets but because, for one reason or another, I just love them and like to watch them run. Even if Sidney's Candy loses, I will still love him. He's just a wonderful colt.

30 Apr 2010 12:33 PM

Great article.  I feel exactly the same way and I LOVE Sidney!!!!!  I hope he wins tomorrow.  I absolutely fall in love with a horse every year and he's the one this year.  Maybe someday us "silly horse loving girls" will get rich because we are so gosh darn emotional!!!!  Good luck!  

30 Apr 2010 2:37 PM

My first true love was Native Dancer.  Dad would drive me to Sagamore and I would stand at his stall staring at him in wonder and love.  It's taken me 67 years, but I've finally purchased my very own race horse.  Everyone who can should give that kind of love a try.

30 Apr 2010 8:45 PM
Kevin A. Burke

Great little write up Becky Johnson.

Very nice, gave me a good feeling on a confused evening. Always keep caring and loving a horse. Don't ever question those feelings for they are right and good. But you know that, you don't need me to tell you.

Just remember, falling in love with a horse is not just the the prerogative of all of you "silly horse loving girls".

I do it, maybe more times then I would like to admit. That's why I love the sport, it allows you to feel close even when sometimes distant.

As for the unaffected onlookers,

those tough speaking, rough looking,

and/or the reverse-

those quiet, non committal, characters out there, they do so too.

They must, why else would they be involved in this crazy wonderful sport. Their problem is they do not know how, and will not admit it publicly.

Have a great day tomorrow and enjoy your "Sidneys Candy" candy ride in the Derby.

30 Apr 2010 8:57 PM
Matthew W

The first horse I fell in love with was the quarter horse Native Empress with the kind grey face! Trained by D Wayne....he'll tell you today she was the best gate horse he ever trained...when I see your passion for Sidney it reminds me of my faves, over the years...Winning Copy, the yellow sorrel quarter...Forego....Eleven Stitches and my Summer of Stitches...the claimer Tulsea...Tiznow....Sidney's Candy is going into the Derby gates tommorrow--he's the fastest horse--by far--of this crop....can he get the distance?...we'll see....

01 May 2010 1:20 AM

Wonderful writing!

I always try and find a horse to fall in love with as a two or three-year-old, and follow them to the first Saturday in May.

A found Tiz Chrome last year, and I was crushed when he broke down.

Now, I have Mission Impazible... there's just something about him, and of course the filly, Devil May Care.

Why watch horse racing if you don't love these amazing animals? It's not just about betting...

01 May 2010 10:56 AM
Ann in Lexington

I still refer to His Felinity Cougar II as "My Own True Love." What a personality he had. Have fallen in love several times since - horses like Affirmed, Sunday Silence, and, most recently, Hard Spun, but The Coug retains top spot in my heart.

01 May 2010 1:26 PM
Kevin A. Burke

Did not want to jinx you but my horse was "Lookin at Lucky". Something about him caught my Heart.

Well I guess there will be a thousand reasons why not, for both our horses, but right now I don't wish to get in to details.

I just know, L-A-L has my heart, in his next race, I am in his corner. I am just happy the jockeys/horses came home safe

As an Aside:

Between just you and I Ms. Johnston, there is no Triple crown this year. The "Ice Man" is sitting with two strong cards in N.Y., and he may well be the next Woody Stevens. He is a good man, I hope he does succeed. Glad I don't have to run against him in June.

Again, thank you for the good feeling last night. Apologize for misspelling your name yesterday. I know people do not mean anything wrong, but it bothers me when I see my name spelled "Berk"      


01 May 2010 11:15 PM
Go Candy Dude!!!!

OMG!!!!! I am the biggest fan of Sidney's Candy!!!!! Me and my sister call him Candy Dude!!! We were so dissapointed but proud of him when he came in 17th in the Derby!!! I just looooooooove him!!!!!

15 May 2010 9:35 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I REALLY LIKE Sid. He's a good one. Forget about The Derby. He went out way too fast and it was a sloppy track. Great things are ahead for him. He's a sweet mover. I remembe rwhen I considered betting Sid at 33-1 in The Futures, said it was too low, then was mad at myself later for not doing it. I'm not playing single horses futures again but I'm going all out on future exacta boxes. There is going to be a huge payout sometime for a reasonable investment. At least Talamo got his Derby experience but he didn't give Sidney's Candy a chance in The Derby letting him run that fast early. It was suicide. Can't wait to see him run again.

16 May 2010 8:56 PM
Keith Kohnhorst

Can Candy wire the best Breeders' Cup field in history, or will Get Stormy wear him out on the front end?  I'll take a flyer on him at 10-1.

04 Nov 2010 2:06 PM

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