01/17/2009 1:00AM

Chocolate Candy takes Cal Derby with ease


ALBANY, Calif. - Odds-on Chocolate Candy ($3.60) lived up to his advanced billing, capturing the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Making what announcer Michael Wrona called "a mouth-watering move" into the lane, Chocolate Candy pulled clear through the stretch, winning the 1 1/16-mile race by 1 3/4 lengths over Axel Foley in 1:43.98. Both runners were coming out of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20.

Previously undefeated Merus Miami was third another 2 1/2 lengths back.

The winner was content to sit back early and was shuffled inside, but he was not bothered as stablemate Revoluta and Feisty Suances pulled clear of their five rivals down the backstretch.

Feisty Suances assumed the lead on the second turn, but Chocolate Candy was moving up strongly. He took over with ease in the upper stretch and was not seriously challenged.

"The race set up like we expected," winning jockey Russell Baze said. "When I leaned forward on him and asked him, he stretched out and held on real well. He dug in and finished well. He's got a long, ground-eating stride. He can move very well while staying within himself."

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was glad he ran in the California Derby instead of the one-mile San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita.

Prior to his third in the CashCall, Chocolate Candy won the Real Quiet. Both races were also at 1 1/16 miles.

"We didn't want to shorten in distance," Hollendorfer said. "I'm glad we did because speed was holding down there, and I don't think we would have won."

A son of the undefeated Candy Ride, a Grade 1 winner in Argentina and the United States, Chocolate Candy now has a career record of 3 wins from 7 starts and $262,500 in earnings.

Hollendorfer said the Sid and Jenny Craig homebred would likely run next in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby here on Feb. 14 and then would be pointed to the April 4 Santa Anita Derby.