Kentucky Derby Contenders: Candy Boy

A fourth place finish in a five and one half furlong Maiden Special Weight, four and one quarter lengths behind a winning Bob Baffert runner, on the All-Weather track at Del Mar last August may not have screamed Kentucky Derby contender, but despite his inauspicious debut, the ever resilient Candy Boy currently finds himself among the favorites to wear the roses on the first Saturday in May.

Candy Boy is a son of the Argentinian-bred Candy Ride, a Grade 1 winner who retired undefeated in six starts, but this isn't the first time he has had a son on the Kentucky Derby trail. 

In 2009, Chocolate Candy won the California Derby and El Camino Real Derby, earning himself a spot in "The Run for the Roses." After being squeezed at the start, he charged through the pack, but had to settle for fifth behind Mine That Bird. He never won in eleven starts after that run and he unfortunately passed away following a paddock accident shortly after he retired. 

Just one year after Chocolate Candy came up short in the Derby, Sidney's Candy won three straight graded stakes prior to the Kentucky Derby, but he was clearly unable to handle the sealed sloppy surface on the first Saturday in May and he finished seventeenth. 

Will the third time be the charm for Candy Rides in the Kentucky Derby? 

From a pedigree standpoint, Candy Boy has all the markings of a Classic distance runner. Candy Ride, himself, won at one and one quarter miles in the G1 Pacific Classic and Candy Boy is out of She's an Eleven, a daughter of a winner on both sides of the pond In Excess, who won a stakes over one and one sixteenth miles.

He was homebred for Lee and Susan Searing and his ascension through the ranks could not have come at a better time for his owners. 

The Searing's most successful recent horse was Kettle Corn, another son of Candy Ride, who made his way out of the claiming ranks to become a top class runner. A multiple graded stakes winner, Kettle Corn was doing some of his best running as a six-year-old. Last Fall, he unfortunately suffered a career ending injury, however, which robbed him of what many thought could have been a solid run in the Breeders' Cup Classic. 

Just three days before the announcement of Kettle Corn's retirement, Candy Boy had finished second in his third attempt at a Maiden Special Weight, again losing to a Bob Baffert trainee. In fact, it wasn't even that close. 

But, as is so often the case in life, there are peaks and valleys and just one month later, in his fourth attempt at getting that oh so important first win, Candy Boy demolished a field of five, winning by a whopping eight and one quarter lengths. He would then go on to finish second to another Candy Ride in the highly regarded Shared Belief after making an impressive move to grab the lead on the backstretch of the G1 CashCall Futurity. He went one better his next time out in the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, though, earning himself his first graded stakes victory and putting his name firmly among the Kentucky Derby contenders. 

Perhaps it's fitting that hardworking owners who have yet to win the Derby join forces with trainer John Sadler, who has yet to score in a Triple Crown race, with a son of a sire who has yet to have one of his progeny wear the garland of roses, but if there's a lesson to be taken from Candy Boy himself it's that sometimes it takes more than one or two chances before you taste victory, but when you do, it's as sweet as candy.

Photo of Candy Boy by Terra T., if you're interested in her photography, you can follow her at on Twitter @Terra_ 

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