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TWIRLING CANDY WINS CONTROVERSIAL DEL MAR DERBY
Twirling Candy remained undefeated with a dominant victory in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby (G2) on Sunday, but the win was not without controversy as the Candy Ride (Arg) colt carried an opponent out into the middle of the course when he ducked out badly entering the backstretch.
Following a stewards’ inquiry, Twirling Candy’s front-running 3 1/4-length win under Joel Rosario was made official and he improved to four wins in as many starts for trainer John Sadler and owner Craig Family Trust. He completed the 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-olds in 1:46.96 on firm turf in his graded stakes debut.
“He must have seen something inside him,” Rosario said. “All of a sudden he went outside. I did the best I could to get him back. I don’t think it caused that much trouble. I didn’t have any trouble with the saddle or the reins. He did it himself.
“I’ve worked him in the morning and he sometimes ducks away from things. He’s so talented. He’s such a good colt. Once I got him going back right, he relaxed and just went on about it.”
Twirling Candy broke alertly and set the tempo through an opening quarter in :23.69. Leaving the first turn, he appeared to shy from something in the infield and ducked out, carrying Grade 2-placed Summer Movie well out into the middle of the turf course. Rosario regained control and guided him back to the rail and Twirling Candy shook free of Summer Movie in early stretch en route to an easy win.
“I think the stewards made the right call [on possible disqualification],” Sadler said. “[Twirling Candy] was so much the best. It was only his fourth start and he’s big and headstrong. He’ll get better and better against better horses. This is one of the best horses in the country; he’s so gifted.
“He’s better when there are horses around him. When he’s by himself out there he does a lot of looking around. He’ll run in the Goodwood Stakes [(G1) at the Oak Tree meeting], and I think the pace on a synthetic surface will be better for him.”
Jairzihno (GB) closed from fourth to finish second at 33-to-1 odds, a half-length in front of Royal F J. Summer Movie faded to last in the six-horse field under Victor Espinoza.
“He took me way out,” Espinoza said of the incident with Twirling Candy. “We almost went down. My horse crossed legs with him and I had to stop riding. I was lucky I didn’t go down. I think my horse might have gotten hurt. I hope he didn’t, but he might have.”
Bred in Kentucky by the late Sid Craig and his wife, Jenny, Twirling Candy is out of the Chester House mare House of Danzing. He boosted his earnings to $294,900 with the $180,000 Del Mar Derby winner’s share.