02/24/2011 9:00PM

Lofty ambitions

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Sidney’s Candy was scheduled to return to the Santa Anita racetrack Friday morning for the first time since a quarter crack knocked him from consideration for the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 5.

He did not miss too much time, but you can’t cut corners at this class level.

“You can’t fudge it (in Grade 1’s),” trainer John Sadler said. “To run in big races, you have to train, especially him.”

Sadler has done a good job so far with Sidney’s Candy, a six-time winner of $893,550 from 11 starts for owner Jenny Craig. But time ran out this winter in California. Sadler, Craig and Sidney’s Candy are looking for new worlds to conquer.

They might find it in England.

“He’s possible for Royal Ascot,” Sadler said Thursday. “Mrs. Craig is a sportsman.”

She also has had racing success in England. In 1992, Craig and her late husband, Sid, won the Epsom Derby with Dr. Devious.

Sidney’s Candy will be considered for the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at a mile on turf June 14. “You could say he’s possible for Royal Ascot,” Sadler confirmed.

If he ships over, Sidney’s Candy could meet the defending Queen Anne winner. She is the same rival that blew away Sidney’s Candy in the Breeders’ Cup Mile – Goldikova.

Even without Sidney’s Candy running March 5 at Santa Anita, Sadler will be well-represented. Jenny Craig-owned Twirling Candy is expected to be favored in the Big ’Cap.

Face it – he does not have much to beat. The handicap division in California is shallow.

However, a new shooter recently blew into town, and the way First Dude is working for his new trainer Bob Baffert, the Big ’Cap is not such an outlandish idea.

First Dude is eligible to a first-level allowance, though he has earned $895,160 from 13 starts. His in-the-money finishes include the Travers, Haskell, Belmont and Blue Grass – third, third, third and third. He finished second in the Preakness and Pennsylvania Derby.

In his first local workout Feb. 18, First Dude whistled five furlongs in :59.60, fastest of 103 workouts. He came back Thursday with another big five-furlong work in :58.20 (the fastest work was :57.80).

It is true that Baffert trainees generally work fast. And Baffert has options with First Dude, who could start in a first-level allowance. But the way he worked Thursday, First Dude is way overqualified for an allowance.

It also is unlikely owner Donald Dizney sent First Dude to California for an allowance-race campaign. Furthermore, the son of Stephen Got Even is proven at the Big ’Cap distance of a mile and a quarter, while Twirling Candy has not raced beyond a mile and an eighth.

It would be an unlikely “daily double” for First Dude to win the Big ’Cap, and Sidney’s Candy to ship over and win at Royal Ascot.

Far-fetched as it sounds, it is not impossible.

TheIronHorse More than 1 year ago
First Dude is one of the most over-rated handicap horses thoroughbred racing has ever seen. He's only considered a Grade 1 stakes contender because the breeding industry has lured any accomplished runner to the breeding shed, causing a major lack of credibility to the older stakes division. While First Dude would win a N1x allowance race, he will not be a player in the handicap division, even if it is a watered down version, due to his lack of both heart and winning instinct. Baffert may calling the shots, but First Dude will never be better than an optional $100k claiming event or N3x allowance heat.
Mike More than 1 year ago
First Dude adds a little excitement to the 'Cap. Going with Baffert will only improve his chances and anything can happen on the front end, except I don't believe Twirling Candy will let him get away.