Last weekend Cairo Prince failed to produce in his big Derby prep race, finishing out of the money in the Florida Derby. Now he’ll be life and death to even qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Based on how Candy Boy performs in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby it could be ‘deja vu all over again’. Like Cairo Prince, Candy Boy’s connections have avoided the ‘big point’ prep races until now in favor of one of the big, 100 point major qualifying events.
Candy Boy’s trainer John Sadler knows the risks but also thinks that the path he’s taken is the best way to prepare his horse for the Kentucky Derby itself. If things work out, Sadler has a top contender on Derby day. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t:
“We knew it was risky, but we thought this was in the best interests of the horse, and that comes first. The spacing works if you go into it from this perspective – is your goal with the Kentucky Derby trying to win it, or just trying to get there? If we get unlucky in the race, it is what it is. But we felt going into the year that this was the best plan. If he belongs, he should be one-two, and that should get him there.”
Candy Boy has been brought along very slowly but he’s improved every time out. It took him four starts to break his maiden as a two year old but went on to end that campaign with a strong second place finish behind Shared Belief–last year’s 2 year old champion–in the Cash Call Futurity. This year Candy Boy’s connections decided to run him in the early season Robert Lewis Stakes and skip any of the races after that prior to the Santa Anita Derby.
The entries for the Santa Anita Derby have been set and Candy Boy will start from the 6th position in a field of eight. He’s priced as the 9-5 second favorite behind current top three year old–and presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite–California Chrome at 6-5. The Kentucky Derby will take place on the first Sunday in May at Louisville’s Churchill Downs race track.