01/14/2011 6:04PM

Sidney’s Candy set for nuclear scan on Monday

Benoit & Associates
Sidney’s Candy, winner of the Sir Beaufort on Dec. 26, was scratched from Saturday’s San Fernando Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Sidney’s Candy, who was withdrawn from Saturday’s San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita after he was found to be walking unsound Friday, will undergo a nuclear scan test on his right hind leg Monday, trainer John Sadler said.

Sadler downplayed the severity of the problem, which he said was first noticed Friday.

“He was off a little behind,” Sadler said. “I don’t think it’s serious. He wasn’t really 100 percent. It’s his right hind. I don’t think it’s anything major.”

The nuclear scan test is more detailed than a conventional X-ray and can reveal hard-to-find injuries.

Sadler said he is hoping that Sidney’s Candy can start in the $200,000 Strub Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 5.

Owned by Jenny Craig, Sidney’s Candy, 4, has won 6 of 11 starts and $893,560. He won the 2010 Santa Anita Derby and four other stakes last year. In his most recent start, Sidney’s Candy won the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes over a mile on Dec. 26.

That same day, Craig and Sadler won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs with Twirling Candy, who was sidelined briefly in early January with a foot bruise, Sadler said.

Sadler said Twirling Candy, a three-time stakes winner, has recovered and is scheduled to work Sunday. But the delay may keep Twirling Candy from a start in the Strub Stakes, he said.

“I’m in no rush,” Sadler said. “I missed about four or five days. We’ll see.”

Main track producing fast times

The main track at Santa Anita nearly produced a third track record of the meeting in Thursday’s fourth race when the maiden claimer Espirito Santo zipped 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.88. The record at that distance for a dirt track at Santa Anita of 1:01.74 is held by Kona Gold in the 1999 El Conejo Handicap, a race no longer contested.

The fast time by Espirito Santo surprised track maintenance superintendent Richard Tedesco.

“I’ve been doing my normal routine,” he said of a maintenance schedule that includes daily harrowing and roto-tilling the surface to prevent compaction. “The cushion is the same.”

The sand-and-clay surface was installed in November and opened for training Dec. 6 and for racing Dec. 26. The surface withstood approximately 15 inches of rain from mid-December to Jan. 3, but there has been no rain in the last 10 days.

“It’s a naturally fast racetrack,” Tedesco said. “We’re doing all we can to keep it safe. People keep telling me their [horses] are coming back good.”

There were two track records on the Dec. 26 opening-day program – Twirling Candy ran seven furlongs in track record time of 1:19.70 in the Malibu and The Factor ran six furlongs in 1:06.98 to win a maiden race for 2-year-olds.

Despite the setbacks to his two leading 4-year-olds, Sadler, who is the president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, said his stable has not encountered major problems with the track.

“I think it’s good,” he said. “Everyone seems to be pretty happy, from what I’m hearing.”

Regarding the setback to Twirling Candy, Sadler said, “He could have a bruise on any sort of track. The only way you don’t have issues is don’t train them, no matter the surface.”

Jockey Garrett Gomez, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding rider in 2007-08, said the surface is deceiving.

“It doesn’t feel like we’re going that fast,” he said. “Horses get over it.

“It’s been good. It’s held up well with all the rain we’ve had. We’ll know more this week when we got some sunshine. That will tell us more about the track.”

Jockey Victor Espinoza, who won Thursday’s first race, said the track was not as firm on Thursday as it was in the first week of January. “This week it’s good,” he said.