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ARCADIA, CA — Although tag-teamed early and late, the favored Danzing Candy withstood all challenges under Mike Smith to gamely prevail in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 San Carlos Stakes.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Danzing Candy shortened up out of a 1 1/16-mile win in Texas to win his third consecutive start, covering 7 furlongs in 1:21.17.
Breaking from the rail in a field of five 3-year-olds and up, Danzing Candy was away alertly but immediately engaged by the Phil D’Amato-trained Coastline, who pressed him to the 1/4 pole. At that point, Coastline’s stablemate Ransom the Moon took over to press the leader, but it was Danzing Candy who prevailed despite Ransom the Moon’s desperate late surge.
“He (broke) really well and took advantage of it today,” said Smith, who also guided him to victory in Texas. “I thought that if I (broke) well, I knew they would press me, but at least I would have the jump on them, if I (broke) well enough. If they were going to make him run fast, well that’s what he does best, isn’t it? I caught a flyer leaving there, so I had to take advantage of it. That certainly helped.”
A runaway winner of the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in the mud on May 28, Danzing Candy, who won the 2016 Grade 2 San Felipe here as a 3-year-old, was off at 1-5.
A 4-year-old colt by Twirling Candy bred in Kentucky by Ted Aroney’s Halo Farms, Danzing Candy, who is owned by Halo Farms and Jim and Dianne Bashor, now has three wins from four starts this year and is 11-6-1-1 overall. With the winner’s check of $150,000, he now has earnings of $700,930.
“The older they get, the better they get,” said Baffert. “He was always a good horse, I’m just fortunate to have him (in reference to the fact he was originally trained by Clifford Sise). Mike did a tremendous job again. He was in the one-hole and had to fight off some early speed but still had something left at the end.
“He rides these horses with so much confidence because he always has a lot of horse underneath him. He really had to dig in today.”
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Ransom the Moon tried every inch of the way and finished second, 6 1/2 lengths in front of a late-closing Kobe’s Back.
“We had a good trip,” said Prat. “This might be a little too far for my horse, but he tried very hard. Around the turn, I thought I had him (Danzing Candy), but he fought back and we couldn’t quite catch him.”
Customarily last early, Kobe’s Back, with Gary Stevens up, ran on for third, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of Coastline. Cool Cowboy was never in contention and completed the order of finish.
Danzing Candy returned $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10. Ransom the Moon brought back $2.60 and $2.10, while Kobe’s Back paid $2.20 to show.
Jockey Mike Smith, Danzing Candy: “He was throwing those numbers up there (:22.15, :44.26) and running fast, so I knew I was ok, but it was just a matter of if someone came late down the middle of the track. That’s what usually gets you in a situation like that. And, if he didn’t jump well, I was going to let Jamie (Theriot, on Coastline) go and see if I could tip out to his outside down the backside.”
Trainer Bob Baffert, Danzing Candy: “We want to see how he comes out of today, but we’ll look at the (Grade 2) Pat O’Brien down at Del Mar. It’s a 7/8ths, ‘Win and You’re In’ (Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race on August 26) for the Dirt Mile. We just have to keep these big horses healthy, and as we get close to the bigger races, we can change our mind here or there, but for now, we’re just happy that we won. I’m happy for the connections, Jim Bashor and Diane Bashor. They just love this horse so much.”
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