12/16/2010 12:52PM

Sidney's Candy, Twirling Candy set for stakes on Santa Anita's opening-day card

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BENOIT PHOTO
The 3-year-old Sidney's Candy, who is being pointed to the Sir Beaufort on turf, is among five horses trainer John Sadler has lined up for stakes on Santa Anita's season-opening card on Dec. 26.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting on Dec. 26 will have a similar theme for trainer John Sadler as the Del Mar meeting last summer. Horses named Candy are expected to lead the stable.

Sadler starts Del Mar Derby winner Twirling Candy in the $250,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs on Dec. 26. On the same day, Sidney’s Candy, the winner of the La Jolla Handicap in August, will run in the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds going a mile on turf.

The respective prize money of those races does not indicate how Sadler and owner Jenny Craig rank the colts. Sadler said those stakes reflect the races that best fits each horse on that day.

“I’ll do similar to what I did at Del Mar, and mix and match” races, Sadler said. “We won’t run two together.”

Between them, Sidney’s Candy and Twirling Candy swept the three stakes for 3-year-olds on turf at Del Mar. Twirling Candy also won the Oceanside Stakes in July, while Sidney’s Candy set a course record over 1 1/16 miles on turf in the La Jolla Handicap in August. Earlier in the year, he won the Santa Anita Derby.

They figure to have prominent roles in the Strub series for 4-year-olds of 2011 at Santa Anita this winter, which begins with the Malibu and continues with the $150,000 San Fernando Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 15 and the $200,000 Strub Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 5.

While they may have been the dominant 3-year-olds at Del Mar, both colts are coming off losses. Twirling Candy was fourth as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes on Oct. 2, a loss that ended plans for a start in the Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs.

“He wasn’t himself in the race,” Sadler said. “He was kind of crampy after the race. The time has been good for him.

“To gun him into the Breeders’ Cup after a tough race, I don’t think that would have been a good idea.”

Thursday at Santa Anita, Twirling Candy worked in company with stablemate Hummurabi, starting four lengths behind. Ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, Twirling Candy ran the first three furlongs in 36.20, began to move closer to Hummurabi in early stretch and finished in front in 1:10.80.

“Oh that is nice,” Sadler said, as he watched the colt finish. “That’s perfect because he got dirt in his face.”

Twirling Candy is one of 10 probable starters for a strong running of the Malibu that includes Alcindor, Don Tito, Caracortado, Indian Firewater, Noble’s Promise, Setsuko, Smiling Tiger, Thiskyhasnolimit, and Thomas Baines. Alcindor, unbeaten in a maiden race and an allowance race at Hollywood Park this fall, makes his stakes debut for trainer Bob Baffert in the Malibu. Thursday, Alcindor worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 at Santa Anita.

Thursday, Sidney’s Candy was the first horse on the track when the 9 a.m. training session began. Ridden by Rosario, Sidney’s Candy worked six furlongs in 1:11 and went the first half-mile in “48 and change,” Sadler said.

The Sir Beaufort Stakes will be Sidney’s Candy’s second start in the last five months. He did not start from the La Jolla until the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6 after being considered for a private sale in October that fell through. In the BC Mile, Sidney’s Candy led to the eighth pole and finished sixth, three lengths behind the remarkable French mare Goldikova.

“I think he got beat by one of the best horses, to Goldikova,” Sadler said. “I don’t think the course helped him any. It was sticky.”

Sidney’s Candy and Twirling Candy represent two of Sadler’s five stakes runners for opening day. Don Tito, third to Noble’s Promise in the Jimmy V Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, starts in the Malibu. Switch, second to Zenyatta in the Lady’s Secret Stakes in October, starts in the $250,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs. Contemplated starts in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for statebred males over seven furlongs.

Sadler, 54, has won the last two training titles at the Santa Anita winter meeting. Through Wednesday at Hollywood Park, Sadler had 13 wins, trailing leader Doug O’Neill by one victory. The Hollywood Park fall meeting runs through Sunday.

Sadler said he does not envision contending for the same title this winter at Santa Anita.

“Doug has all the claiming horses,” Sadler said. “I don’t know if I have enough claiming horses and condition horses. I’m good at the top.”

Sadler can prove that on opening day.