05/26/2011 3:50PM

Hollywood Park: Sidney's Candy should be at his best in American Handicap


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – From a timing perspective, Sidney’s Candy may be impossible to beat in Saturday’s $150,000 American Handicap at Hollywood Park.

The Grade 2 American, run over a mile on turf, will be Sidney’s Candy’s second race after a four-month break. In the past, Sidney’s Candy has repeatedly won stakes in his second starts after layoffs.

“He seems like he’s ready for a race after he’s had one of his layups,” trainer John Sadler said. “That’s usually his M.O.”

Sidney’s Candy’s win in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March 2010 was his second race after a six-week break. Last summer, he won the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf in course record time at Del Mar in his second race after an 11-week break.

Owned by Jenny Craig, Sidney’s Candy was second in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on the synthetic main track here on May 7, his first start since an emphatic win in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita last December. Earlier this year, Sidney’s Candy was plagued by minor injuries.

The American Handicap will be Sidney’s Candy’s first start on turf since a sixth behind the mighty Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs last fall.

“We think he’s a little better on grass,” Sadler said.

Sidney’s Candy, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario, will set the pace in the American, Sadler said. In most of his races, Sidney’s Candy has held the lead, a style that has led to five stakes wins ranging from distances of seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.

“We’ll be up front,” Sadler said.

A formidable group of horses will be chasing Sidney’s Candy, and a few of those will not be far behind early in the race.

Liberian Freighter, the senior member of the field at 6, is seeking his third consecutive victory, having won the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes over a mile on turf at Santa Anita on April 9 and the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap over 1 1/16 miles here on April 24. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Liberian Freighter led throughout those races, but won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile here last fall by stalking the pace.

“He doesn’t have to be on the lead,” Drysdale said.

Ryehill Dreamer and The Usual Q.T., second and third behind Liberian Freighter in the Inglewood, are part of the American field along with the stakes winners Goldwaki and Leroy’s Dynameaux and the stakes-placed runners Norvsky and Smokey Lonesome.

The Usual Q.T. is winless in six starts since the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar last summer, a span that includes a third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last fall. The Inglewood was The Usual Q.T.’s first start since a second in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita in January. A strong race in the Inglewood has left trainer Jim Cassidy confident that The Usual Q.T. can run well on Saturday.

“I was surprised that he was as fit as he was,” Cassidy said of the Inglewood. “I’ve been keeping him fresh.”