10/05/2006 11:00PM

If pattern holds, youth serves Real Candy well


Traditionally, 3-year-old fillies have fared very well when they've taken on their elders in the Grade 3 Ballerina Breeders' Cup. The last three renewals of the Ballerina were won by 3-year-olds, and owner Jeannie Spence is hoping Real Candy continues that trend next Saturday. The Ballerina carries a $150,000 purse and is expected to have a 12-horse field.

Last year, Monashee won both the B.C. Oaks and Ballerina on her way to being named the local horse of the year. Real Candy comes into the Ballerina off a nose victory over Hurry an Notis in the B.C. Oaks, in which she paid $49. If she wins the Ballerina it's unlikely that she would even be named the top 3-year-old filly in the province - Excited Miss appears to have that spot locked up - but Spence said she couldn't care less.

"Winning the Oaks was the greatest thing that's happened to me in racing," she said. "It was just such a thrill, and what made it so special was being able to share the win with so many people."

Real Candy is trained by Quint McCabe, but McCabe gives most of the credit for Real Candy's success to his assistant trainer, Alex Shamtanis, who also owns a small share of Real Candy.

"Alex has been with her from day one, and really he's done most of the work with her," said McCabe.

Shamtanis said he was pleased with Real Candy's final work for the Ballerina on Friday morning. With exercise rider Brian O'Riordan aboard, Real Candy worked an easy half-mile in 47.80 seconds and then galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.

"That was perfect," said Shamtanis. "She galloped out a lot better than she did in her final work before the Oaks."

Spence gave Real Candy a week off following her Oaks upset, and she said the rest has kept Real Candy in good shape for Sunday.

"I don't know if she's good enough to win the Ballerina, but I know she'll go out there and try," said Spence.

The horse Real Candy will have to be beat Sunday, again, is Hurry an Notis, who almost carried her speed the whole way in the Oaks. Both horses appear to be peaking at the right time.

Hurry an Notis is trained by Tracy McCarthy, who won the Oaks and Ballerina with Monashee last year.

"Hurry an Notis is just starting to put it all together," said McCarthy. "We took the blinkers off for her last race, and that helped quite a bit. But mostly, it's just that she's maturing. She used to get very nervous when she trained, but the last couple of weeks she's come back bone-dry and she doesn't seem so worried about everything."

Hurry an Notis will likely be the pacesetter in the Ballerina. She has tremendous speed, and so far it appears she just has one way of going.

"We're not going to try and change anything for the Ballerina, and hopefully she'll just settle and run her race," said McCarthy. "Monashee was like that, but then she realized it was kind of fun being in the catbird's seat. Maybe one day Hurry an Notis will figure that out as well."

The Ballerina appears to be shaping up as a wide-open race. The two top older fillies and mares at Hastings are both out for the year. Monashee, who would have been the odds-on favorite, hasn't recovered from a virus she picked up after winning the City of Edmonton Distaff at Northlands Park on Aug. 27. What a Blurr, who won Delta Colleen here Sept. 16, is also out and, according to trainer Steve Henson, is retired.

"She has a tear in one of her ligaments," said Henson. "We think she did it in the Delta Colleen. She seemed fine when I galloped her back the first time, but she was off the second day back. We could probably patch her up enough to make it to the Ballerina, but I wouldn't want to take the risk of having her vanned off. She's at Canmor Farms now, and hopefully she'll make a nice broodmare."

Halo Steven passes on Premiers

According to trainer Barb Heads, B.C. Derby winner Halo Steven won't be running in the Grade 3 Premiers next Sunday.

"The derby was a hard race on him, so I probably would have turned him out if he was still here anyway," she said. "But he's headed to Southern California, where he'll be trained by John Sadler."

Halo Steven was in Sadler's care before he shipped to Canada, where he won four stakes races in five starts.