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No DQ, but plenty of questions about Del Mar Derby
DEL MAR, Calif. – The two horses involved in a controversial bumping incident during the Del Mar Derby on Sunday emerged from the race on Monday in a manner most befitting what had happened the previous day, with Twirling Candy, the runaway winner after bolting five furlongs from the wire, just fine, and Summer Movie, who finished last after being interfered with, “a little bit body sore,” according to his trainer, Art Sherman.
“He’s acting like a horse who’s come out of a tough race, but, so far, I couldn’t say he’s got any major problems,” Sherman said. “But he’s going to be sore for a while.”
Twirling Candy, according to trainer John Sadler, “looks good this morning,” and will be pointed to the Goodwood Stakes, against older horses, on Oct. 2 during the Oak Tree meeting at Hollywood Park.
Twirling Candy, now unbeaten in four starts, won his first two starts on the main track at Hollywood Park before winning two grass stakes at Del Mar. One of the reasons Sadler will put him back on the main track is that he has Sidney’s Candy, another Candy Ride 3-year-old owned by Jenny Craig, pointing to the Oak Tree Mile on turf on Oct. 9.
“I don’t want to run them together,” Sadler said.
Sadler said Twirling Candy “sometimes loses his focus,” and theorized that being on the lead and not having a target to hold his attention were factors in him suddenly bolting in the Del Mar Derby. In the infield, near the spot where Twirling Candy bolted, is scaffolding for a concert stage, which was used all summer, most recently on Saturday night for the band Z Z Top.
“There’s an awful lot of concert material left over from ZZ Top,” Sadler said. “He’s a horse who sometimes loses his focus, gets to lollygagging around.”
Despite his antics, Twirling Candy re-gathered himself and cruised home through the stretch, winning by 3 1/4 lengths.
“He’s freaky good,” Sadler said.
Sherman questioned the stewards’ decision to let the result stand, while admitting that Twirling Candy was “much the best.”
“I thought you get taken down if you bother a horse, no matter what,” Sherman, a former jockey, said calmly. “I wonder what they would have done if I’d have finished fourth. I think the stewards were way out of line. I’ve never had so many phone calls from other trainers, or trainers stopping me. Every horse took back when that happened, but he eliminated mine. The winner was much the best, but there’s the elimination factor.”
Twirling Candy was the 1-5 favorite, and there was a sizeable show bet on him. Despite his overwhelming favoritism, there was a loud chorus of boos when the announcement was made that the result would stand.
“I guess there might have been a riot if they’d have taken the number down,” Sherman said. “We might not have got out of there.”
The stewards for the Del Mar Derby were Scott Chaney, Luis Jauregui, and Kim Sawyer. Jauregui is a back-up steward, but he was in the stand for the derby because Tom Ward, one of the three primary stewards here along with Chaney and Sawyer, had to leave early on Sunday.
Chaney said the stewards believed taking down Twirling Candy would have been, in his words, “unjust.”
“Clearly the 6,” Chaney said, referring to Twirling Candy, “ducked out and took [Summer Movie] out. In the immediate sense, that probably cost him a couple of lengths. But it happened so far from the wire, and it’s hard to argue that it cost him the 6 3/4 lengths he finished behind the fifth horse. It would have been terribly unjust for that to result in a disqualification.”
Jairzihno, the longest shot in the field of six at 33-1, was second, a half-length in front of Royal F J, then came Fantastic Pick, Kid Edward, and Summer Movie.
The stewards did not speak to any of the riders before making their decision.
“I don’t know what insight they could have imparted in this case,” Chaney said.
Oak Leaf next for Tell a Kelly
Multitasking was obligatory for John Sadler on Saturday and Sunday.
After Tell a Kelly won the Grade 1 Darley Debutante on Saturday, Sadler dashed out of the winner’s circle toward the paddock. He needed to make a visual inspection of a horse in the next race before submitting a claim. There were two claims submitted, and Sadler lost the random draw.
Sunday morning, as training wound down, he spoke on a local racing radio program, then handled a question from a passer-by on his role as president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, before taking a moment to reflect on Tell a Kelly’s win.
Making her stakes debut, Tell a Kelly closed through traffic to win the $250,000 Darley Debutante over seven furlongs by 4 1/2 lengths over Wickedly Perfect. Tell a Kelly cruised through the final sixteenth under jockey Alonso Quinonez, who hand rode the filly under the line.
The victory made Tell a Kelly the leader of the 2-year-old filly division in California for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash.
“She was pretty impressive,” Sadler said.
The current plan is for Tell a Kelly to make her next start in the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on Oct. 3. The Grade 1 Oak Leaf will be Tell a Kelly’s first start around two turns, and a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.
“There is nothing to indicate she won’t go the traditional route, with the caveat it’s the day after,” Sadler said of the Oak Leaf at his barn on Sunday morning.
With that, Sadler grabbed a stopwatch. He was bound for the racetrack, to watch turf works.
Always a Princess returns
Always a Princess, who was second in the Oak Leaf Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall, returns in an optional claimer over six furlongs on Wednesday.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Always a Princess has been working regularly, and sometimes quickly, in recent weeks at Hollywood Park. Always a Princess arrived at Del Mar over the weekend to prepare for Wednesday’s race.
Trainer Bob Baffert said Always a Princess will benefit from the start.
“She’s been working well up there,” Baffert said. “We thought we’d give her a race to get her going.”
Always a Princess did not have surgery during her break, Baffert said, but was plagued by repeated small problems. “She was ready to run but had a setback and then was ready to run and had a setback.” Baffert said.
Always a Princess is part of a field of 10. Six of the fillies and mares ran in a claiming race in their last start. Perfect Vintage won an optional claimer for statebreds over six furlongs on Aug. 12.
Tropic Storm may try Oak Tree Mile
Two years after he placed in four consecutive graded stakes, Tropic Storm finally won his first stakes Saturday in the $83,325 Windy Sands Handicap, leaving trainer Craig Dollase to consider a start in the Oak Tree Mile at Hollywood Park on Oct. 3.
The Windy Sands was Tropic Storm’s second start in the last 23 months. He was second, placed first via disqualification, in an optional claimer on turf on Aug. 6, his first start since a third in the 2008 Oak Tree Mile at Santa Anita.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Tropic Storm was in training briefly in the summer of 2009 before being taken out of training again.
In Saturday’s race, Tropic Storm led throughout the one-mile Windy Sands, finishing in 1:35.64, the fastest time of the meeting for the distance on the Polytrack synthetic surface. Ridden by David Flores, Tropic Storm finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Red Door Drive.
Dollase said a six-furlong workout on Aug. 29 left him confident that Tropic Storm had returned to his competitive 2008 form.
“The only worry was getting him fit,” Dollase said. “I felt better after we got that three-quarters work in him.”
Tropic Storm, a 6-year-old gelding, has won 6 of 15 starts and $379,805.
◗ Sidney’s Candy worked five furlongs in 59 seconds on Monday morning at Del Mar, the best time of 31 at the distance. Also working was California Flag, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, who went a half-mile in 49.20 seconds for trainer Brian Koriner.
– additional reporting by Steve Andersen