06/06/2013 2:18PM

DRF Breeding Hot Sire: Candy Ride making impact on Southern California circuit

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Lee Thomas photo/courtesy Lane's EndCandy Ride

Clubhouse Ride’s breakthrough win in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on June 1 at Betfair Hollywood Park brought the veteran handicap horse much-deserved recognition after he performed in the shadow of Game On Dude throughout the spring. It also added more West Coast luster to the résumé of Lane’s End stallion Candy Ride.

An Argentine import campaigned by prominent California owners and breeders Sid and Jenny Craig, Candy Ride left an indelible mark in Southern California racing nearly a decade ago, and since retiring to stud, he has sired several Grade 1 winners on the same circuit.

At age 5, Clubhouse Ride has come into his own as a racehorse after an early career full of fits and starts. Purchased for $22,000 as a juvenile at the Barretts January mixed sale in 2010 by Six-S Racing Stable and campaigned by Six-S in partnership with Nikolas Petralia, Clubhouse Ride won the Barretts Juvenile Stakes at Fairplex Park later that year, finished third in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, and was second in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes that winter.

He suffered a hairline fracture of his right ankle shortly after the Sham and was given the rest of 2011 off. Clubhouse Ride returned in 2012 and made 12 starts, primarily in allowances, before stepping up in class this year.

Clubhouse Ride posted runner-up finishes in four consecutive races this year heading into the Californian – three of them in stakes won by Game On Dude – but now carries a sharp Grade 2 win (earning a career-high 106 Beyer Speed Figure) into the summer. According to his trainer, Craig Lewis, Clubhouse Ride will target the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 6, when he could face Game On Dude yet again.

Out of the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking Results, Clubhouse Ride is related to several international stakes winners, but only one from his close family made an impression in the United States: Seeking Results’s half-brother River Keen, who began his lengthy racing career in England during the mid-1990s before shipping to the United States and eventually tallying back-to-back Grade 1 wins in the 1999 Woodward Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Clubhouse Ride’s pedigree contains some more black type but primarily of the foreign variety and at the listed or Group 3 level. His decent but far-from-spectacular female family makes Clubhouse Ride similar to many of Candy Ride’s best progeny to date, further burnishing his sire’s reputation for getting stakes-caliber racehorses from average-quality mares.

Candy Ride’s early momentum as a sire can be attributed largely to his own brief but spectacular career on the racetrack, which enabled him to draw considerable interest from breeders once he began his stud career in 2005 at John G. Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Lexington, Ky. The son of Ride the Rails out of the Candy Stripes mare Candy Girl was purchased for $900,000 by the Craigs after winning his first three starts in Argentina, where he was foaled, and receiving champion miler honors.

Trained by Ron McAnally, Candy Ride easily won his first two races at Hollywood Park during the summer of 2003 – including the Grade 2 American Handicap – before unleashing one of the best performances of the decade when he soundly defeated Medaglia d’Oro in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Candy Ride set a track record of 1:59.11 in the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic and earned a 123 Beyer, and the late Sid Craig said afterward that the horse had given him his most exciting moment in racing.

Unfortunately, that brilliant win would mark Candy Ride’s last appearance on the track. He remained in training for nearly a year but battled soft-tissue problems in one of his ankles, and the Craigs made the decision to retire Candy Ride to Hill ‘n’ Dale in the summer of 2004.

Initially standing for a fee of $10,000, Candy Ride got off to a strong start, as his first crop produced Chocolate Candy and Wynning Ride, who would place in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity and Hollywood Starlet, respectively, and Grade 3 winner Evita Argentina. That trio of juveniles helped Candy Ride finish 2008 as the third-leading freshman sire in North America by earnings.

Candy Ride’s first crop would go on to greater accomplishments in 2009. Chocolate Candy took the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby and ran fifth in the Kentucky Derby, and Evita Argentina won the Grade 1 La Brea at year’s end. By that point, three other stars had emerged.

El Brujo won two stakes in Canada and then scored two Grade 3 wins in Kentucky during the fall; he would follow that by winning the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar in 2010. Capt. Candyman Can, Grade 2-placed as a juvenile, won the Grade 2 Hutcheson, the Grade 3 Bay Shore, and the Matt Winn before being awarded first in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga via disqualification, becoming Candy Ride’s only Grade 1 winner outside of California to date. And Misremembered excelled as a late-developing 3-year-old, with a win in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby and a close second in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap. He would capture the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in 2010.

Chocolate Candy was bred by the Craigs and campaigned by the Craig Family Trust, established by Jenny Craig after her husband, Sid, died in 2008. The Craigs also bred arguably Candy Ride’s two best runners to date, second-crop foals Sidney’s Candy and Twirling Candy.

Sidney’s Candy won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in 2011 and was sold by the trust to WinStar Farm and Rubio B. Stable later that year. He would subsequently win a pair of Grade 2 stakes on turf and is now standing his second season at WinStar in Versailles, Ky. Twirling Candy won the 2010 Malibu while carrying the Craigs’ blue and white colors before Will Farish and Marty Wygod purchased an interest in the horse. He concluded his career with a head loss to Acclamation in the 2011 Pacific Classic and is standing his second season alongside his sire at Lane’s End in Versailles.

Candy Ride moved from Hill ‘n’ Dale to Lane’s End for the 2010 season and has continued to be a productive sire, being bred to 139 mares last year, according to Jockey Club statistics, and posting yearling and 2-year-old auction averages in the $75,000-to-$85,000 range during 2012-13. In addition to Clubhouse Ride, he is represented by four other stakes winners in 2013 – 3-year-olds Walkwithapurpose, Candy Bites, and Omega Star and the 6-year-old Candyman E – along with the 5-year-old Sugarinthemorning, who placed in the Grade 2 Santa Monica.

Candy Ride’s best have proven to excel at longer distances, improve with age, and thrive in the sunny confines of Southern California. In these ways, they emulate their sire and add to the impact of the Craigs on the state’s Thoroughbred industry.