SIDNEY'S CANDY SOARS BACK INTO DERBY PICTURE, TAKES SAN VICENTE BY 4 1/4; TUSCAN EVENING KEEPS ROLLING IN BUENA VISTA

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 15, 2010) – Sidney’s Candy regained a huge measure of the high expectations he had generated following a dazzling maiden victory last summer at Del Mar with a comparable triumph on Monday in Santa Anita’s 69th running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Following a disappointing comeback performance in an allowance event on Dec. 30 at Santa Anita, Sidney’s Candy simply ran away from his opposition in the seven-furlong stakes race that has served as a proving ground for nine Kentucky Derby champions.

With Joe Talamo sitting confidently in the saddle, Sidney’s Candy matched strides early with trainer Bob Baffert’s Tiny Woods, who had beaten him twice, before leaving his rival 4 ¼ lengths in arrears when crossing the wire in 1:20.91, making it the second fasted running in the San Vicente’s long, rich history.

“I was confident he’d bounce back with a good effort today,” Talamo said of the homebred son of the brilliant Candy Ride trained by John Sadler for the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust. “John (Sadler) told me to just get a good start and go from there. At the three-eighths, I just kind of clucked to him and he got right into the bridle.

“They’ve done a great job with this horse. I just basically sat on him today, and I couldn’t believe that final time. That’s awesome. It’s very exciting to have a horse of this caliber.”

Tiny Woods, after chasing Sidney’s Candy through fractions of 22.77, 45.50 and 1:08.62, held second by 1 ¾ lengths over Classical Slew in the field of seven. Baffert’s other entrant, 5-2 second choice Quiet Invader, finished fifth.

Sidney’s Candy paid $6.20, $3.60 and $2.40. Tiny Woods, ridden by Victor Espinoza, returned $3.80 and $2.60. The show price on Classical Slew, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, was $4.

Sadler dismissed the previous race by Sidney’s Candy when he wound up fourth in a five-horse field at odds of 3-5 following four months on the sidelines while sore shins healed.

“In his last start, he had been off four or five months,” said Sadler. “He was a little heavy and he didn’t break. He’s kind of a free-running horse, so when he got out of his game the other day, it didn’t surprise me that he didn’t run well.

“We want him to do what he does, which is kind of bouncing around a little bit with some natural speed. Once I saw him get rhythmic today, I knew we were going to be fine. The plan today was to get him back on the lead.”

Sadler commented that he wasn’t sure what would be next for Sidney’s Candy, but said, “The reason I didn’t want to go into an allowance race is because of the graded earnings for the big stuff (Kentucky Derby). He’ll be going around two turns next time, that’s for sure. Which one of those races it is, we don’t know yet.”

The victory in the San Vicente was worth $90,000 to Sidney’s Candy, which lifted his total to $133,560 from a 2-1-0 mark in four starts. Tiny Woods had beaten him by a head in his first start on July 25 at Del Mar and again when victorious in the comeback effort.

If Sidney’s Candy has dealt with some inconsistencies during the start of his career, so had Tuscan Evening. But that all changed for the 5-year-old Irish-bred mare once she joined Jerry Hollendorfer’s barn some 14 months ago.

Tuscan Evening captured her eighth victory in 12 U.S. starts in Monday’s co-feature, the Grade II, $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap, while defeating 35-1 longshot Eissoai by 2 ¼ lengths and covering one mile on turf in stakes record time of 1:33.47.

With leading rider Bejarano at the controls, Tuscan Evening tracked Czechers in the field of 11, took command in early stretch and gradually drew clear while getting one left handed crack of the whip from her rider.

Eissoai, ridden by Michael Baze, passed Czechers to gain the place with the latter finishing another one-half length back in third under Kent Desormeaux. The final clocking edged the previous stakes record of 1:33.48 shared by Dance Parade, 1998, and Gold Fleece, 1992.

“It was a perfect ride by Rafael,” said Hollendorfer, who trains Tuscan Evening for William de Burgh. “He didn’t chase after a real fast pace, and that’s what allowed him to win.”

“I knew the number four (Czechers) had speed and that he (Desormeaux) could send her or try to put pressure on me. He sent her, so I wanted to stay behind him and let my horse stay more relaxed. From the three-eighths, my horse has a good turn of foot, she can really fly. She came running, and I didn’t have to worry about anybody else coming late. I was on the best horse.”

Quite remarkably, Tuscan Evening had been winless in 11 races in Europe during the early stages of her career even though she had been competitive against some of the leading fillies in the British Empire.

She broke her maiden by five lengths in her U.S. debut on Jan. 22 of last year at Santa Anita, and Tuscan Evening has been on a roll ever since. Her record in the States on Monday became 8-1-2 in 12 starts for earnings of $626,555 including the Buena Vista’s winning share of $90,000. She had arrived with $92,851 in the bank while still a maiden.

Monday’s triumph was her fifth in seven starts over Santa Anita’s grass course and her fifth in six pairings with Bejarano, who scored a riding triple on the holiday program to extend his meet lead over runner-up Espinoza to 47-31.

Following the three-day holiday weekend, Santa Anita will be dark on Tuesday and Wednesday before racing resumes on Thursday with an eight-race program beginning at 1 p.m.

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