04/06/2010 11:00PM

Sidney's Candy looking fairly sweet


ARCADIA, Calif. - It is Santa Anita Derby Day, and the handicapping notebook is full again, with stuff like this . . .

* Backers of Sidney's Candy in the Santa Anita Derby, beware. No horse this winter at Santa Anita has led wire to wire at 1 1/8 miles on Pro-Ride. Is it a big deal? Nope. Only seven races have been run at the distance. The shortest price on a pacesetter was 9-2. Sidney's Candy is 3-1.

* How low will the odds be on Lookin At Lucky in the Santa Anita Derby? In the program, he is listed at 4-5. If he goes that short, it would be the biggest underlay of the day even if he is the best horse in the field. That biased comment is from a handicapper who envisions no one running early with likely wire-to-wire winner Sidney's Candy.

* It was 19 years ago, on April 3, 1991, a first-time starter in a $32,000 maiden claimer at Santa Anita sprang a 16.70-1 upset. Her name was Exchange, who later won seven graded stakes and more than $1.2 million for Sid and Jenny Craig and trainer Bill Spawr. As a broodmare, Exchange produced just one foal, 0-for-5 Fair Exchange, who happens to be the dam of Sidney's Candy.

* Mike Machowsky, trainer of derby starter Caracortado, appreciates Southern California tradition.

"If you train here," he said, "two races you want to win are the Santa Anita Handicap and the derby." Then Machowsky smiled and remembered the others. "Those two, and the Oceanside and Malibu," he said. The Oceanside is opening day at Del Mar, and the Malibu is opening day at Santa Anita winter. Caracortado is eligible for the derby and Malibu, but he won't run in the Oceanside. It is restricted to nonwinners of a sweepstakes this year.

* The party is over. Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is washed up. "All others" (No. 24) closed last week at depressing odds of 9-2, a long way from the bonanza in three of the first 11 years of the future wager's pool 3. "All others" paid $36.80 in 2009 (Mine That Bird), $24 in 2002 (War Emblem) and $26.60 in 1999 (Charismatic). Next year? No bet.

* Alex Solis is a jockey, not a bettor. Last Sunday he wished he could have been both.

"I don't look at the board very often," Solis said, "but 5-1 . . ." Solis rode Tanda ($13.80), who crushed the Grade 3 Santa Paula for 3-year-old fillies by racing the fastest 6 1/2 furlongs of the winter meet (1:14.36), good enough for a Beyer Speed Figure of 97. A star is born?

* The Illinois Derby at Hawthorne includes two losing California shippers compromised by circumstances in the San Felipe - front-runner American Lion and late-runner Dave in Dixie. American Lion was rated, got rank, and ran fourth. If American Lion is a good horse, which is debatable, he must use his speed. New jockey David Flores is expected to do that Saturday. Although American Lion may not be legitimate, he is the only Illinois Derby front-runner and could race wire to wire. His program odds are 7-2. No thanks.

As for Dave in Dixie, whose rally was ineffective in the slow-paced San Felipe, he is being rushed down the perilous Derby trail. Dave in Dixie has been beloved since he paid $17.60 winning his debut at Del Mar, but his class remains unknown. Compromised by pace last time, he might deserve one more chance. But 9-2 is no bargain.

* Frequent-flyer department: When he makes his 10th career start in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, Turf Melody will be racing at his 10th track. Previous stops: Delaware, Colonial, Arlington, Woodbine, Keeneland, Laurel, Remington, Fair Grounds, and Aqueduct.

* Unusual races this week exemplify the struggle Santa Anita officials face to fill the cards. A $32,000 maiden claimer Thursday was split three ways on the eight-race card. A second novelty was a $25,000 claimer restricted to nonwinners of three, a new condition at Santa Anita. The N3L is okay, but splitting a maiden claimer three ways is not pretty.

* It is always fun when the "phantom plunger" blows, and it happened Wednesday in race 1. Stretch-out sprinter Champagneandlilies - a maiden claimer running long for the first time - attracted more than 88 percent of the show pool in the seven-runner field. She wilted in the stretch and finished a bad fourth. Show payoffs on the 1-2-3 finishers were $14, $19.60, and $24.20. You have to love it.

* Is the fast California-bred miler Compari a cinch to win the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap on Saturday? Yep, thought so.

* Speaking of statebred turf milers, Hollywood Park picked the wrong year to scrap the $150,000 Khaled Stakes for Cal-breds on Gold Rush Day, April 24. As someone noted, the Cal-bred turf division has never been deeper, with the likes of Compari, Red Sun, The Usual Q.T., Norvsky, Nitro Active, and Tamarack Smarty. Alas, no Khaled this year.

* Four of the 13 horses claimed this meet by Doug O'Neill were from a Mandella - three from Richard Mandella (Exile, Kanan Dume, Pay for Play), one from Gary Mandella (Working Capital). First-off-the-claim Kanan Dume lugged out badly March 28 in a first-level allowance and finished eighth. It must have been a prep race, because O'Neill is wheeling him back six days later Saturday, for the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap.

* Attention holiday shoppers: No library is complete without Santa Anita's 75th-anniversary book, "The Great Race Place." The hardbound "walk down memory lane" was coordinated by Candace Coder-Chew, with copy written by Tracy Gantz. The book includes more than 400 photographs from Azucar to Zenyatta. Gantz and Hall of Fame jockeys Laffit Pincay and Eddie Delahoussaye will sign copies of "The Great Race Place" Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon at a tent across from the Champions Gift Shop.

* Publicity corner, take two: Bob Baffert collectible jerseys are on sale Saturday. Baffert will sign the jerseys Saturday in the Paddock Gardens from noon to 1 p.m. A portion of each jersey sold will benefit Old Friends Equine Retirement.