09/05/2010 7:07PM

Twirling Candy wins despite himself

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Twirling Candy survived his own immaturity and a stewards’ inquiry when he rolled to a 3 1/4-length victory on Sunday in the Grade 2, $300,000 Del Mar Derby, which ran his record to a perfect 4 for 4.

Twirling Candy ($2.40), the overwhelming favorite, proved much best at the end of an eventful 1 1/8 miles on turf, which saw him bolt five furlongs from the wire into the path of Summer Movie, who was second at the time but wound up last in the field of six 3-year-olds.

Stewards Scott Chaney, Luis Juaregui, and Kim Sawyer decided that taking down Twirling Candy, in the words of Chaney, would have been “unjust.”

“Clearly the 6,” Chaney said, referring to Twirling Candy, “ducked out and took [Summer Movie] out. In the immediate sense, that probably cost him a couple of lengths. But it happened so far from the wire, and it’s hard to argue that it cost him the 6 3/4 lengths he finished behind the fifth horse. It would have been terribly unjust for that to result in a disqualification.”

Jairzihno, the longest shot in the field at 33-1, was second, a half-length in front of Royal F J, then came Fantastic Pick, Kid Edward, and Summer Movie.

Joel Rosario, who rode Twirling Candy, said the colt gave him no warning that he would misbehave. He theorized that Twirling Candy may have shied from something in the infield. One replay shows a small child and then an adult with a camera just yards in front of the point where Twirling Candy ducked out.

Victor Espinoza, who rode Summer Movie, said he was “lucky to stay on.” He also said that Summer Movie “came back limping.”

The stewards did not speak to any of the riders before making their decision.

“I don’t know what insight they could have imparted in this case,” Chaney said.

The antics of Twirling Candy, and the inquiry, overshadowed an otherwise dazzling performance from this talented colt, who won two sprints on the main track at Hollywood Park before winning a pair of grass stakes at Del Mar. Rosario merely hand rode him the through the stretch, yet Twirling Candy flew through the final three furlongs in 34.92 seconds and final furlong in 11.29 seconds while covering 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:49.96.

Twirling Candy was bred by owner Jenny Craig and her late husband, Sid. He is trained by John Sadler.

* Sadler and Rosario endured far less angst winning the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes later in the day, as favored Switch ($3.80) won easily, as expected, in the one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. Switch beat Hard Way Ten by 3 1/4 lengths, with Ellafitz third. Switch was timed in 1:36.25. The Searing family's CRK Stable owns Switch.

* Also on Sunday’s Del Mar undercard, Moon de French ($14) led from start to finish and scored a 1 3/4-length victory in the $79,475 Adoration Stakes for older fillies and mares. Martin Garcia rode the winner for trainer Bob Baffert. Moon de French is owned by Ahmed Zayat.

Dance to My Tune was second, Silver Swallow third, and favored Miss Pleasant last in the field of seven. Moon de French completed one mile on Polytrack in 1:36.38.