11/05/2010 1:13PM

First stakes win comes at right time for Fischer

Benoit & Associates
Soul Candy wins the California Cup Classic on Oct. 30 at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The frustrations of the modern California Thoroughbred breeder and farm owner evaporated momentarily for Cal Fischer as Soul Candy roared to the lead in the final furlong of the $150,000 California Cup Classic at Hollywood Park on Oct. 30.

The 73-year-old Fischer had finally secured his first stakes win as an owner and breeder after a lifetime involvement in the sport. He stood in the winner’s circle beaming, reflecting on years of work.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said Friday. “I hope it’s the first of many to come.”

Soul Candy, whom Fischer owns in partnership with E Z Eight Racing Stable, closed from last in a field of eight to win the Cal Cup Classic over 1 1/8 miles by 1 1/4 lengths as a 5-1 shot. The first-place purse of $90,000 will be split among the owners, trainer Paddy Gallagher. and jockey Rafael Bejarano.

For Fischer, the windfall could not come at a better time, with California breeders struggling to make costs.

“We got rocked pretty hard with abandoned horses and people not paying right now,” he said. “I really did need it.”

Fischer’s Madera Thoroughbreds in Madera, Calif., is north of Fresno and stands three stallions – Birdonthewire, the sire of Soul Candy; Market Forecast, by Holy Bull; and Snorter, by Awesome Again.

Through Thursday, Birdonthewire, who stands for $3,500, was 39th on California’s 2010 stallion list by progeny earnings with $400,245. Soul Candy’s 2010 campaign reflects $203,020 of that figure. Birdonthewire was bred to 16 mares in 2009, the most recent statistics available from the Jockey Club.

Fischer is quick to point out what the 21-year-old Birdonthewire has achieved in other capacities as a stallion, specifically as the broodmare sire of Benny the Bull, the 2008 champion sprinter.

“He’s probably the only horse in California to sire an Eclipse Award champion as a broodmare sire,” Fischer said. “He’s just had limited opportunities.”

Even with success as a broodmare sire, Birdonthewire has not drawn many breeders to Madera Thoroughbreds, a frustrated Fischer said.

“I could stand Man o’ War at Madera Thoroughbred and I would get two mares,” he said.

Soul Candy has won 4 of 10 starts and $205,300. A 4-year-old gelding, Soul Candy beat maidens in his second start at Santa Anita on Jan. 2 this year and lost his next four starts before winning an optional claimer against statebreds at Hollywood Park in late May. He won an optional claimer against open company at Del Mar on July 22 and was fifth in his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 29, losing by three lengths to Breeders’ Cup Turf entrant Champ Pegasus.

“The horse has shown so much promise,” Fischer said. “The only bad races he’s run was when he flipped his palate, but Paddy corrected that.”

Fischer and Gallagher are considering running Soul Candy in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Hollywood Park on Dec. 4.

“He looked good the other day against California-breds,” Gallagher said. “The open races are tougher, but that’s what he’s got to do from now on.”

Fischer said he will go with Gallagher’s plans, trusting the latest in a lengthy list of trainers he has done business with.

“Paddy has been the best we’ve had so far,” Fischer said. “He’s great with corresponding.”

That doesn’t mean that Fischer does not have the occasional suggestion. After Soul Candy won the Cal Cup, Fischer had a proposal.

“Do I take him home and freshen him?” he recalled asking Gallagher. “I thought he was going to shoot me.”

Soul Candy stayed in the barn. A graded stakes win is possible later this fall.