10/26/2011 3:51PM

Santa Anita: Soul Candy's Cal Cup Classic defense will come on turf

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Benoit & Associates
Soul Candy won last year's Cal Cup Classic on a synthetic surface, but this year's race has been shifted to the turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The consolation to Soul Candy’s six-race winless streak this year is that most of the horses who have beaten him will start in Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Soul Candy, for one, is staying put in California. He will start in Saturday’s $175,000 California Cup Classic at Santa Anita, a race he won last year under different circumstances.

The 2010 Cal Cup program was run at the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park meeting, and the Classic was run over 1 1/8 miles on the synthetic main track. The Cal Cup is back at Santa Anita this year, as part of the Santa Anita autumn meeting, but the Classic is being run over 1 1/8 miles on turf for the first time. The Classic is the richest of five stakes for statebreds on Saturday’s program.

The $125,000 Distaff for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course is led by the multiple stakes winner Unzip Me. There are three races worth $100,000 – the Sprint over six furlongs and Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, each run over 1 1/16 miles. The Sprint field includes Bob Black Jack and M One Rifle, who won the 2008 and 2009 Malibu Stakes; and Mensa Heat, who was second in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes earlier this month.

Soul Candy’s best performance this year was a third behind Caracortado in the Sunshine Millions Turf for California-breds and Florida-breds over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita in January. Caracortado has been pre-entered in the BC Turf Sprint.

Soul Candy was later fourth in the Santa Anita Handicap behind Game On Dude, who has been pre-entered for the BC Classic. In his last start, Soul Candy was fifth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap behind Celtic New Year and the multiple stakes winner Bourbon Bay.

“He’s been in tough,” Gallagher said.

In the Del Mar Handicap, Soul Candy closed from sixth, led briefly on the turn, and faded to finish five lengths behind Celtic New Year.

“It was a strangely run race,” Gallagher said.

The Cal Cup has been a goal since that race.

“He seems happy,” Gallagher said.

David Flores rides Soul Candy for the first time. The Cal Cup Classic has a projected field of eight. Soul Candy must beat Holladay Road, the winner of an optional claimer on Oct. 6; Mega Heat, who has won his last three races and will be making his stakes debut; and Norvsky, who won the California Dreamin Handicap at Del Mar.

Decision on Baze due Friday

Jockey Tyler Baze, suspended since early September after avoiding a Breathalyzer test at Del Mar, is expected to learn on Friday if he faces any further sanctions from the California Horse Racing Board.

Baze met with Los Alamitos stewards Albert Christiansen, James Dreyer, and George Slender last Saturday, regarding alleged violations of three racing board rules.

In a complaint filed last month by racing board investigators, Baze was cited for allegedly violating rules for failing to comply with license restrictions; for disorderly conduct, specifically being under the influence of alcohol; and for conduct detrimental to horse racing.

Sunday, Slender said the stewards were discussing the case, but had not reached a decision.

The stewards could give Baze a time or financial penalty, or allow him to return to riding in the near future.

Baze, who turned 29 on Oct. 19, has not ridden since Aug. 31 at Del Mar. He was ordered to take a Breathalyzer test on Sept. 1 as part of a program stipulated by the jockey with the racing board after he failed a similar test in mid-August.