02/06/2011 1:05PM

Twirling Candy = Brilliance

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It seemed like the official sign for the Strub Stakes hadn’t even been posted yet before the proclamations started flowing that Twirling Candy was the best race horse in America. Most of the time, such snap judgments will come back to haunt you. But in this case, how can you disagree?

We’re at a weird point in the racing calendar right now. There is no serious turf racing, and save for the isolated exception, there won’t be for months. Although Dialed In and Tapizar looked good in early-season 3-year-old stakes, the best 2-year-old males of last year haven’t shown themselves yet. That means we simply don’t know if Uncle Mo and To Honor and Serve have made the essential developmental step forward for them to be forces again this season. And unlike in recent years, we don’t have the truly special female performer who can challenge for the title of America’s best horse, at least not at the moment.

So if you are looking to crown a horse the best in action, then at this point in time you have to look at the handicap division. And that’s why Saturday was so interesting. We had most, if not all, of the top older horses in Florida contesting the Donn Handicap, and we had Twirling Candy in the Strub. We had the opportunity to make a fairly immediate comparison, and the contrast was stark.

Giant Oak has never been the sort who has wanted to run past the last opponent in the stretch. Those type of horses invariably have more talent than they are given credit for, but preferring finishing second or third to winning is an unappealing character flaw in a race horse. Maybe after 23 starts and at the age of 5, Giant Oak has found the will to win. But I have to see more before I’m convinced. So until then, I’m taking the way Giant Oak ran away in the late stages of the Donn from Morning Line, Rule, I Want Revenge, and Fly Down less as a signal that Giant Oak has arrived and more as bad news for the latter quartet.

The Strub, on the other hand, hard a far lower degree of difficulty than the Donn. Twirling Candy was, frankly, up against very little. But what was so compelling about the Strub was the overwhelming authority with which Twirling Candy won, while at the same time leaving the powerful impression that he hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of what he can do.

Yes, I know the Donn received a preliminary Beyer Figure of 105 while Twirling Candy got a 101 in the Strub, but there is so much more at play here. Maybe you disagree, but I feel that if you ran that Donn 10 times, you could have as many as five different winners. But you could have run that Strub 100 times, and the only way Twirling Candy wasn’t going to win was if one of his opponents was allowed to cut through the infield.

The bottom line for me is, Twirling Candy possesses an undeniable brilliance that those who contested the Donn just simply do not have. And when given the choice, I go with brilliance every time.

Jerry B More than 1 year ago
Ready for Haynesfield to join this crowd. I hear he is training great for Asmussen.
jim tully More than 1 year ago
And Jud Buechler could have averaged 20 and 8 in the D-League. But in the NBA he warmed benches. It's easy to look good against the inferior competition Twirling Candy faced. If anything, we need to see more from him and not Giant Oak.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Yea lets wait until he beats a horse other than Tweebster to say he's a great horse.. Then again there are very few good older horses out there, but i would say the Donn was a deeper field than the Strub was
Myoldnags More than 1 year ago
Brilliance - hardly. The entire older division looks pretty dismal. For those who wonder why TC was in a strangle hold Sadler essentially told TVG. guys he told the jock not to go to the lead and get him to relax. Obviously the horse didn't understand. And I'm pretty sure he won't ever be a presser. That will bite him at some point in time when he faces some legitimate competition. You better hope some East Coast horses ship in to the West Coast or we will learn nothing else about this horse. Sadler certainly isn't going to ship him East cause it'll look better at the end of the year as he whips up on what little there is left in this division in the West. After all he took the lesson from Sherriffs. Then at the end of the year he can point at all the "Graded Stakes" he's won and beg when he loses the one race where he will face any kind of competition.
Zenyatta John More than 1 year ago
Twirling Candy is 10 lengths better than Giant Oak. Twirling Candy is a stone cold freak. Why do you think they tried to sell Sidney's Candy - cause they knew Twirling Candy is a super star. He truly is the best older horse by far.
Captain Bodgit More than 1 year ago
Twirling Candy possesses an undeniable brilliance that those who contested the Strub simply do not have. That field was terrible. Tweebster gets beat 15 lengths in the Donn.
tim More than 1 year ago
Agreed Mike, he was pretty push-button. You could see Rosario put the pedal down and like a Porsche he took off and right before the wire Rosario eased him up and you saw him throttle down. So there's another gear there. Fun to watch. For me though the dirt at SA gives this performance credibility I don't think we'd be giving him on what they've been running on the past four years. I'm starting to feel the west coast is getting back some of it's swagger back.
RoMo More than 1 year ago
. . .. There is also the 5 pounds .. the track set up .. SA's surface is allowing "speeders" to hold the speed from start to finish.. GS's was wearing the speeders out in routes .. That can be seen in the early splits being the similar in both races.. The speeders where not exactly staggering home in the Donn .. but for sure where running on fumes.. I guess the question might be .. if the Donn had been run at SA .. would the result have been the same ..? IMO .. it would not ..? .. It's still "a horse .. on a given day .. on a given track (surface condition) .. against certain competition and their running style .." What will be interesting .. if TC will stay in the West and go back to "arty" after SA or go switch to Turf .. or .. I say OR go East ..?
bestpal More than 1 year ago
Twirling Candy is a brilliant racehorse. For all the 'Doubting Thomases,' thank you.
bob bright More than 1 year ago
Very honest accessment. I am proud of you. Based on the Beyer, I will bet the farm on Giant Oak when he runs against Twirling Candy.