03/14/2016 12:38PM

Sparkman: Sires Giant's Causeway, Twirling Candy find more success on Derby trail

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Tom Keyser
Destin, by Giant's Causeway, wins the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

Last weekend’s two major Kentucky Derby preps were dominated by descendants of two well-established stallions who were already enjoying very good years in 2016.

Destin, winner of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby is by three-time-leading North American sire Giant’s Causeway, while Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes winner Danzing Candy, by Twirling Candy, is a paternal grandson of Candy Ride, who has his own Derby prospect this year in Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes winner Gun Runner.

Despite those three North American sire championships, Giant’s Causeway thus far has exerted more influence through his male line in Europe than in America. His dual classic-winning first-crop son Shamardal (out of Helsinki, by Machiavellian) is well established as a top-five sire in Europe, with 94 stakes winners to date, including Tryster (Min Alhawa, by Riverman). Tryster is the recent winner of the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan and is likely to start as the favorite in the Group 1 Dubai Turf on Dubai World Cup night.

Shamardal’s son Lope de Vega (Lady Vettori, by Vettori) won the same two classics – the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby equivalents – and is inbred 3x3 to Machiavellian. Lope de Vega has quickly established himself as one of the best young sires in Europe, with 15 stakes winners in his first two crops. He also had a major winner in Dubai on the same night as Tryster’s victory, when Very Special (Danielli, by Danehill) won the Group 2 Cape Verdi.

Giant’s Causeway’s best sire son in America has been First Samurai (Freddie Frisson, by Dixieland Band), who is certainly no slouch, having sired 22 stakes winners to date, including Grade 1-winning colts Lea (Greenery, by Galileo) and Justin Philip (Avaknowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance), both of whom are at stud with a chance to extend this branch of the Giant’s Causeway male line.

Destin is a full brother to Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes winner Creative Cause, out of Grade 1 winner Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer. Creative Cause, who stands at Airdrie Stud, also has a chance to help establish a more dirt-centric branch of the Giant’s Causeway male line with his first foals racing this year.

Dream of Summer, who won 10 of 20 starts, including the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, was by far the best horse to pop up along her female line for many generations, but with two high-class sons, it is clear she is passing along the right genes.

Danzing Candy is the third stakes winner to appear from the first crop of Twirling Candy, who was widely considered to be the most talented member of the outstanding first crop of the undefeated Candy Ride, but never quite lived up to his exceptional promise on the racetrack. Out of House of Danzing, by Chester House, from the family of the immortal Affirmed, Twirling Candy won his first four starts at 2 and 3, including the Del Mar Derby, in impressive fashion but disappointed in the Goodwood Stakes and thus skipped the Breeders’ Cup.

He got his Grade 1 win next time out in the Malibu and scored another impressive win in the Grade 2 Strub, but was badly outrun by Game On Dude in the Santa Anita Handicap. After winning the Grade 2 Californian, he closed his career with placings in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic.

A bigger, more physically imposing horse than Candy Ride, with the flowing stride of a high-class Thoroughbred, Twirling Candy stands alongside his sire at Lane’s End.

Danzing Candy is the first stakes winner out of Talkin and Singing, by Songandaprayer, a half-sister to the top-class turf runner Better Talk Now, by Talkin Man, whose five come-from-behind Grade 1 wins included a somewhat controversial victory over champion turf male Kitten’s Joy in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Danzing Candy’s second dam, stakes-placed Bendita, also produced stakes winner B. A. Way, by Lasting Approval, and descends from a high-class French family chock full of stamina.

Candy Ride also has sired the Grade 1-winning colts at stud Sydney’s Candy and Misremembered, both of whom have sired stakes winners in their first crops. The undefeated winner of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, Candy Ride has sired 56 stakes winners to date and ranked among the top five sires in America in both 2014 and 2015. Although his best son to date, champion Shared Belief, was a gelding, Candy Ride may be well on his way to establishing himself as the next important sire of sires.