07/29/2014 1:04PM

Candy Boy takes show on road for West Virginia Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Candy Boy will travel east for Saturday's West Virginia Derby, as trainer John Sadler plans to keep the colt in dirt races for 3-year-olds.

Candy Boy’s second season begins in earnest Saturday – and it’s going to involve some travel.

With no major main-track stakes for 3-year-olds left in California, Candy Boy will hit the road to compete in the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park. If things go according to plan, he could rack up additional frequent-flier miles over the next few months.

“The plan is to stay on dirt in these big races for 3-year-olds,” trainer John Sadler said.

In five starts since winning his maiden last November, Candy Boy has finished second in the CashCall Futurity, won the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, been third in the Santa Anita Derby, 13th in the Kentucky Derby, and second in the inaugural Los Alamitos Derby on July 5.

The winners in those four defeats are 2-year-old champion Shared Belief and current division leader California Chrome – twice each. He should be favored Saturday over Tapiture, the winner of the Southwest and Matt Winn stakes, and six other rivals.

Candy Boy was the 9-1 fourth choice in the Kentucky Derby, but his race basically came to an end entering the clubhouse turn when he was bumped, ducked out, and was taken up.

“He had a nightmarish trip in the Derby. I can’t even watch the race,” Sadler said. “But he came out of it okay, and we gave him a breather.”

:: West Virginia Derby: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

After a nine-week break, Candy Boy returned in the $500,000 Los Alamitos Derby against Shared Belief. Although his past-performance line looks like an even effort, that is not the case. Candy Boy made a move on the backstretch to reach striking position, settled, then rallied with Shared Belief into the stretch. Although beaten 4 1/2 lengths, that’s as close as anyone has come to Shared Belief in his perfect 5-for-5 career.

“I wanted to get a race into him here before we went out of town, so we went to Los Al,” Sadler said. “I didn’t want to start shipping all over off a discouraging race like the Derby. He ran a really good second. I think it’s the best race he’s ever run. I also think Shared Belief is heads above everyone else.”

Candy Boy has always appeared to want distance, and the 1 1/8 miles of the West Virginia Derby should suit him. With Vicar’s in Trouble and several other speed horses in the field, he should get a legitimate pace to sit behind.

“We are ready to start our second-half campaign Saturday,” Sadler said.

◗ The Louisiana-based Gold Appointment has been scratched from the West Virginia Derby, leaving a field of eight.