12/15/2008 12:00AM

Chocolate Candy faces test

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Benoit & Associates
Chocolate Candy, winner of the Real Quiet Stakes, steps up in class for Saturday's Grade 1 CashCall Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The two-race winning streak that Chocolate Candy has compiled this fall has left owner Jenny Craig and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer anxious for 2009.

The 2-year-old colt won his stakes debut in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 8 and makes his graded stakes debut in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity on Saturday, a Grade 1 at 1 1/16 miles.

The distance will not be a problem. The current winning streak includes victories at a mile and 1 1/16 miles. The competition will be more of a test and will tell Craig and Hollendorfer where they stand with Chocolate Candy.

The field for the CashCall Futurity is expected to feature the stakes winners Azul Leon, Backbackbackgone, and Bittel Road, as well as Pioneerof the Nile, who was third in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in October.

Chocolate Candy has been well-regarded in the Hollendorfer stable for months, but it was not until the Candy Ride colt began running around two turns that he has showed his best effort. Candy Ride, who won the 2003 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, was campaigned by Craig and her late husband, Sid.

Chocolate Candy lost his first three starts, two of which were sprints, before the current streak began with a win in a maiden race at Santa Anita on Oct. 4.

"The horse has settled down a lot," Hollendorfer said Sunday. "He's real nice in the paddock and a lot more comfortable now. We feel like he's on the right track. We have a lot of confidence in the sire and the individual horse himself."

Hollendorfer knows Chocolate Candy will need to show improvement to win the CashCall. He was encouraged by the win in the Real Quiet when Chocolate Candy stalked the pace to early stretch before taking the lead in the final furlong.

On the backstretch of that race, Chocolate Candy showed patience under jockey Garrett Gomez when a rival made an early move. Gomez coaxed Chocolate Candy to wait and got a response when needed in the stretch.

"I thought it was a mature move for a horse," Hollendorfer said.

For the CashCall Futurity, Gomez has opted to ride Pioneerof the Nile. Chocolate Candy will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard the colt when he was second in a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar on Aug.o29. For Chocolate Candy, a lot seems to have changed since then.

Laragh plans Florida campaign

Laragh, the front-running winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes, will resume her career in Florida this winter. Her presence there will give IEAH Stables, which co-owns the filly, a nationwide presence in the 3-year-old filly division.

Last month, IEAH Stables bought division leader Stardom Bound for $5.7 million at auction. She is based in California with trainer Bobby Frankel.

Laragh led throughout the Starlet Stakes, winning by a length over Wynning Ride. The race was Laragh's first start since a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

Trainer John Terranova said Sunday that Laragh will remain in California until after Christmas and then will be sent to Florida. The long-term goal is the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 1.

"I don't think distance is going to be a problem with her," Terranova said. "She's a real classy, talented filly, and I think over time and natural maturity she'll be able to relax a little bit."

Laragh has won 3 of 6 starts and $509,465 for IEAH Stables, Gary Tolchin, and Pegasus Holding Group Stables.

Hearing on Wait a While postponed

A hearing regarding a positive drug test for the anesthetic procaine found in Wait a While following her third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24 has been postponed until early next year, according to Hollywood Park stewards.

A hearing was scheduled for the matter on Sunday at Hollywood Park, but was postponed at the request of attorney Neil Papiano, who is representing trainer Todd Pletcher, according to Hollywood Park stewards Albert Christiansen and Kim Sawyer. A new date has not been set.

Wait a While could be disqualified from the Filly and Mare Turf and could lose her purse earnings of $213,000. She is owned by Arindel Farm. Pletcher could face a suspension or financial penalty, pending a hearing.

Since the Filly and Mare Turf, Wait a While has been retired and sent to Kentucky to be bred.

Antique Avenue's gate injury fatal

Antique Avenue, who was briefly knocked out after striking his head on the starting gate before Thursday's seventh race, was euthanized Saturday because of head injuries suffered in the accident, trainer Ray Bell said.

On Friday, Bell was optimistic that Antique Avenue, 3, could recover from the injury, which resulted in a significant loss of blood. But on Saturday, Antique Avenue began to lose his balance, Bell said.

"As the morning progressed, his equilibrium was getting worse," Bell said. "It was a shame. The vet said it was head trauma and swelling around the brain. It started to affect his neurological ability.

"I was optimistic he was going to make it. It's so discouraging. It's difficult to take."

Owned by breeders Betty and Robert Irvin, Antique Avenue won 3 of 5 starts and $74,640.

Garcia suspended for one year

Alejandro Garcia, who has worked as a jockey and exercise rider in Southern California in recent months, has been suspended for one year by Hollywood Park stewards for possession of an illegal electrical device, according to a ruling released by stewards Sunday.

Garcia, 51, has not ridden since the Fairplex Park meeting in September. According to Christiansen, an electrical device was found in Garcia's backstretch living quarters.

The suspension begins Monday and ends Dec. 21, 2009. Garcia is banned from the racetrack during the term of his suspension. This year, Garcia is winless with nine mounts, including one second-place finish. His mounts have earned $5,114.