05/26/2017 1:56PM

Baffert, Smith invade again for Lone Star Handicap

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Barbara D. Livingston
Danzing Candy will attempt to give Hall of Fame horsemen Bob Baffert and Mike Smith a sweep of the meet’s two richest races in Sunday's Lone Star Park Handicap.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – Danzing Candy and Texas Chrome were accomplished 3-year-olds last season who have come back strong at 4, and on Sunday, the pair will clash as co-highweights in the Grade 3, $200,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.

The 1 1/16-mile race drew a cast of five. Danzing Candy and Texas Chrome, who are weighted at 121 pounds, will take on the millionaire Neck n’ Neck, Grade 3 winner Shotgun Kowboy, and local allowance winner Carouse. The handicap is the third leg of a 50-cent pick four on races 7-10 that has a minimum guaranteed pool of $25,000.

Danzing Candy will attempt to give Hall of Fame horsemen Bob Baffert and Mike Smith a sweep of the meet’s two richest races, following Mor Spirit’s victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Steve Sexton Mile on May 7. Texas Chrome ran second in that race, while Danzing Candy is coming off an allowance win at Santa Anita in which he earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 105.

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Lone Star Handicap, Race 9

KEY CONTENDERS

Danzing Candy, by Twirling Candy

Last 3 Beyers: 105-98-101

◗ The winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe last year at 3, he has run twice this year. In his season debut, he was third in the $80,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes on March 4 at Santa Anita. Danzing Candy then won the allowance at a mile and came under consideration for Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

“He’s been doing really well,” Baffert said Thursday. “I was debating whether to run him in the Gold Cup here, a mile and a quarter, or take him down there. But for right now, the goal is the Breeders’ Cup [Dirt] Mile, so I just want to keep him in that” range from a mile to 1 1/16 miles.

◗ This is the horse’s first trip under the care of Baffert, who took over Danzing Candy’s training last summer. The horse flew in Thursday with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.

“I wanted to see how he ships,” Baffert said. “Jimmy said he shipped well.”

◗ Danzing Candy will break from the rail.

“He’s a really fast horse, has a lot of speed,” said Baffert. “Hopefully, with some racing luck, he should run a big race.”

Texas Chrome, by Grasshopper

Last 3 Beyers: 98-75-79

◗ He was a four-time stakes winner last year at 3, among his wins the Super Derby and Oklahoma Derby. Texas Chrome has made two starts at 4, finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 15, then closing with a rush to earn his best Beyer, a 98, against Mor Spirit.

“I love the way he’s come back as a 4-year-old,” said J.R. Caldwell, who trains Texas Chrome for Keene Thoroughbreds. “He grew up, is more mature. We know he’s got the grit and the heart and the ability to run. And the maturity was there. We didn’t see it in the Oaklawn Handicap, but he came back and ran one of his best races last time in the Sexton Mile.”

◗ Texas Chrome will break from post 5 under Ricardo Santana Jr.

“I like the outside post. It gives us a lot of options,” Caldwell said. “And the mile and a sixteenth – the added distance is going to help me.”

◗ Texas Chrome would surpass $1 million in earnings with a win.