11/20/2016 7:59PM

Seaside Candy captures stakes debut in Si Cima

Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography
Seaside Candy, ridden by Brian Hernandez and racing without blinkers, wins the Si Cima by four lengths.

Seaside Candy ran the best race of her career making her stakes debut and won the $51,000 Si Cima by four lengths on Sunday at Fair Grounds.

Forest Lake finished second by a half-length over favored Big World, with strong second choice Pacific Pink another half-length back in fourth.

Seaside Candy, ridden to victory by Colby Hernandez for trainer Al Stall and owner-breeder Stewart Madison, won her debut last February at Fair Grounds and a first-level Louisiana-bred allowance race at Evangeline by nine lengths on June 29. But about two months later, Seaside Candy finished fourth as the odds-on favorite in another statebred-restricted allowance, drifting so far to the inside she actually hit the rail in the homestretch.

Her connections regrouped, giving her a break and racing her Sunday without blinkers, and Seaside Candy did most everything right this time. She was a bit headstrong sitting third and in the clear as Grand Farewell set splits of 24.06 seconds and 48.01, and Seaside Candy jumped into contention when Hernandez let her out a notch at the half-mile pole. She cruised around the turn going comfortably, took the lead on her own at the top of the stretch while still not asked for run, but drifted down toward the fence, as she had in her last start, when Hernandez went three times to a right-handed crop at the three-sixteenths pole. Hernandez cocked his stick and Seaside Candy for the most part corrected her course, and she passed under the wire much the best, stopping the timer in 1:43.08 for one mile and 70 yards on a fast track.

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“She’s a big, strong filly with a nice stride, but she’s always had a mind of her own,” Stall said.”She’s super quirky. When she was in front like that I was just holding my breath.”

Seaside Candy paid $22.40 to win. If all goes well, the 4-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy and the Sea of Secrets mare Seaside Affair will make her next start in the $100,000 Champions Day Ladies on Dec. 10, Stall said.

The two favorites from Sunday’s race, Big World and Pacific Pink, are likely to show up there, too, and both have a right to improve. They broke from adjacent stalls, 4 and 5, in the Si Cima and were squeezed back to the field’s tail when the horse in post 3 broke outward and the horse in post 6 came in at the start.