07/02/2011 1:29PM

Hollywood Park: Twirling Candy drills for Hollywood Gold Cup

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Benoit & Associates
Twirling Candy is the likely favorite for the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The five-time stakes winner Twirling Candy worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 at Hollywood Park on Saturday, his final workout before he starts as the favorite in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9.

Twirling Candy worked in company with stablemate Domonation, who provided an early target. Ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, Twirling Candy started about four lengths behind Domonation and trailed by that margin until early stretch. Racing outside the pacesetter, Twirling Candy quickened near the eighth pole and caught Domonation near the finish line, where Domonation’s workout ended.

Twirling Candy ran an additional furlong. Hollywood Park clockers timed Twirling Candy’s final furlong in 11.40 seconds.

“We went a little slower early on, but he finished good,” Rosario said.

In his most recent start, a win by 1 1/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on June 4, Twirling Candy was fifth early, pulled hard under Rosario on the backstretch, and rallied wide through the stretch to reach the front in the final sixteenth.

Twirling Candy has had three workouts since that race.

“He’s been really good in the morning,” trainer John Sadler said. “The training has been designed to keep him relaxed.”

Owned by a partnership that includes breeder Jenny Craig, Twirling Candy has won 7 of 9 starts and $684,900. The Gold Cup will be his second start at 1 1/4 miles, preceded by a troubled fifth as the 1-2 favorite in a roughly run Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.

The Gold Cup, the richest race of the spring-summer meeting, has a probable field of nine, including Acclamation, Aggie Engineer, Dark Cove, First Dude, Game On Dude, Jeranimo, Setsuko, and Soul Candy. A decision on whether defending champion Awesome Gem starts will be made “at the last minute,” trainer Craig Dollase said Saturday.

Sadler is hoping a pace develops and that Twirling Candy will be more patient in the race for Rosario.

“I think at a mile and a quarter the field will be spread out, and we can get a good trip,” Sadler said.

Dark Cove, the lone shipper among the probable starters, worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Saturday. Trained by Kentucky-based Kenneth McPeek, Dark Cove will make his Grade 1 debut in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

The list of nominations includes Blind Luck, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2010, but she is not a confirmed starter and could run in the $750,000 Delaware Handicap on July 16 at Delaware Park.

◗ Sarah’s Secret, winner of the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on June 11, will miss the $250,000 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf on July 16 and will start in the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar on July 24, trainer Kathy Walsh said.

Sarah’s Secret is unbeaten in four starts. Walsh said the San Clemente distance of a mile on turf and the timing makes the race appealing.

“We’ve asked a lot of her and we want to take care of a nice horse,” she said. “I think it would be asking a lot to go a mile and a quarter.”