01/22/2011 12:24PM

Soul Candy staying home for Sunshine Millions Turf

Benoit & Associates
Soul Candy will face a deep cast in Saturday's Sunshine Millions Turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Keeping Soul Candy at home for Saturday’s $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita is more appealing to trainer Paddy Gallagher than a road trip to Gulfstream Park for a lucrative race on the same day.

Soul Candy could have been on a plane to Florida this week for Saturday’s $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic on the main track, but a lack of experience on that surface, or any dirt track for that matter, and the gelding’s success on turf in recent months led Gallagher to remain at Santa Anita.

“It seems like a long way to go to find out,” Gallagher said.

Owned by Madera Thoroughbreds and E Z Eight Racing Stable, Soul Candy has won 4 of 11 starts and $217,300. He beat maidens in January 2010, lost his next four starts in allowance races and optional claimers, and has won three of his last five starts.

Soul Candy was fifth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap on turf in August, losing to eventual Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up Champ Pegasus, but rebounded from that loss to win the California Cup Classic on the synthetic main track at Hollywood Park on Oct. 30. The win represented the first career stakes victory for breeder Cal Fischer, 73, of Madera, Calif.

In his most recent start, Soul Candy was third behind the Gallagher-trained Aggie Engineer in the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 4. The form of that race was proven when Aggie Engineer returned to win the San Pasqual Stakes here earlier this month.

In deciding to keep Soul Candy at Santa Anita for the Sunshine Millions Turf, Gallagher may have found the more difficult of the two top races in the six-race Sunshine Millions series for California-breds and Florida-breds.

Run over 1 1/8 miles, the Sunshine Millions Turf, which has 17 pre-entries, also features the Grade 1 winner The Usual Q.T. and the Grade 2 winner Caracortado among the California-breds, and the graded stakes winners Jeranimo and Presious Passion among the Florida-breds.

“It’s a tough race this year,” Gallagher said. “The race has a lot of depth. He’ll like the distance. Maybe a little farther would be better.”

The Classic drew no California-breds among the 14 pre-entries. For Gallagher, the added prize money and a cross-country journey is not worth the trouble with a gelding who has never left California.

Tanda has minor setback

Tanda, the winner of two Grade 3 races last year, but unraced since June, may miss a scheduled start in the $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes over seven furlongs next Sunday.

Trainer Dan Hendricks said a minor foot bruise last week may keep Tanda from starting.

“The foot flared up last week,” Hendricks said. “If she works on Monday or Tuesday, I’ll be fine.”

Tanda, 4, has won 4 of 7 starts and $217,710. She won the Santa Paula and Railbird stakes last year and was a troubled third in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park in June.

Switch, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes last month, will be favored in the Santa Monica.