05/04/2016 9:54AM

Danzing Candy to show the way in Kentucky Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Grade 2 stakes winner Danzing Candy finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby after setting a very quick pace.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. isn’t quite sure which horses, if any, will push his first Kentucky Derby starter on the early pace. He only knows that Danzing Candy will be winging it from the get-go.

“It’s the only thing he knows how to do,” said Sise, the California-based veteran who was one of the last Derby arrivals here Monday.

Whether or not he’s around at the finish, Danzing Candy figures as a major factor in handicapping this 142nd running of the Derby. A fast early pace conceivably sets things up for back runners, while a softer pace would favor front-running types, a group that could include Outwork, Destin, Gun Runner, Mohaymen, Mor Spirit, and quite possibly the race favorite, Nyquist.

Sise, who was born in St. Louis but moved with his family to Southern California at an early age, is letting Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith decide how it all unfolds. Smith has been aboard for the colt’s last four races – the first three being gate-to-wire victories ending with the San Felipe Stakes in March, and the latest resulting in a distant fourth-place finish April 9 in the Santa Anita Derby after the Twirling Candy colt set fractions of 22.15 seconds, 45.24, and 1:10.12 over a sloppy track.

“If we can get a little easier pace and not go in 45 and 1, we might be all right,” said Sise. “I’d like to think it was the slop that did him in because Mike said every time he dropped the colt’s head, he went to skating around. Hopefully, that’s our excuse, anyway.”

Wire-to-wire winners have gotten rarer in the Derby as the years have worn on. In the last 30 runnings, only War Emblem (2002), Go for Gin (1994), and Winning Colors (1988) have been on the lead all the way.

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