A little while after Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) routed the competition in Saturday's Wood Memorial S. (G1) at Aqueduct, SIDNEY'S CANDY (Candy Ride [Arg]) offered a rebuttal on behalf of the West Coast Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls with a front-running, 4 1/2-length romp in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1). Setsuko (Pleasantly Perfect) rallied from last to finish a clear second, while champion Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) crossed the wire third after being severely checked and shuffled back on the far turn.
A homebred campaigned by the Craig Family Trust, Sidney's Candy was expected to face more pace pressure Saturday than he did last time in the March 13 San Felipe S. (G2), where he coasted early and held on late in the 1 1/16-mile affair. When that forecast did not materialize, his Santa Anita Derby rivals were all in trouble. Despite bobbling at the start, the John Sadler pupil glided right to the front for regular rider Joe Talamo, and got away with comfortable splits of :24, :48 2/5 and 1:12 1/5. Who's Up (Graeme Hall) stalked in second without ever pestering the leader.
Lookin at Lucky, the 4-5 favorite, was settled into a good tracking spot, initially between Caracortado (Cat Dreams) and Skipshot (Skip Away). When Caracortado lost position, Lookin at Lucky smoothly maneuvered to the rail and appeared to be well placed on the far turn, drafting just to the inside of Who's Up. Suddenly, the reigning champion juvenile ran out of room. Garrett Gomez had to check him sharply, and Lookin at Lucky was out of contention.
At the same time, Sidney's Candy was delivering the coup de grace. Quickening on cue, the chestnut kicked away impressively while tearing through one mile in 1:35 2/5. The added ground of the Santa Anita Derby proved to be no concern for Sidney's Candy, as he strode home in majestic isolation through the final furlong to complete 1 1/8 Pro-Ride miles in 1:48.
Lookin at Lucky regrouped, came around Who's Up and kept on through the stretch, but his effort was not enough to salvage second. He was outfinished by Setsuko, who powered past the rest of the field on the outside and reported home 1 1/2 lengths clear of Lookin at Lucky. Another 1 1/4 lengths adrift came Caracortado in fourth, followed by Skipshot, Alphie's Bet (Tribal Rule), Thomas Baines (Johannesburg), Posse Power (Posse), Who's Up and Cardiff Giant (Graeme Hall). The stewards reviewed the incident on the far turn, but made no change to the order of finish because the top two were uninvolved, and Lookin at Lucky beat the others.
Sidney's Candy, the 7-2 second choice, rewarded his loyalists with mutuels of $9.60, $5.40 and $3 while keying the $1 exotics -- $49.90 (exacta), $128.10 (trifecta) and $523.70 (4-5-7-6 superfecta). The 12-1 Setsuko paid $10 and $4.80, and Lookin at Lucky yielded $2.10.
With the $450,000 winner's check, Sidney's Candy increased his career earnings to $673,560 from his 6-4-1-0 record. After just missing by a head in his debut at Del Mar in July, he came back to break his maiden by four lengths, setting a new track record of 1:02.71 for 5 1/2 furlongs on Del Mar's Polytrack. Sidney's Candy was sidelined by sore shins for four months. When he returned at Santa Anita in a December 30 allowance, he got off to a poor start and wound up fourth. He took a big step forward next time out in the February 15 San Vicente S. (G2) at seven furlongs, roaring to a 4 1/4-length decision. Sidney's Candy made his two-turn debut in the aforementioned San Felipe and defeated the well-regarded Interactif (Broken Vow).
The Kentucky-bred was produced by the Storm Cat mare Fair Exchange, and he has an unnamed yearling full brother. Fair Exchange is the only foal from multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Exchange (Explodent), who captured such major events as the Matriarch S. (G1), Santa Barbara H. (G1), Santa Ana H. (G1), La Canada S. (G2), El Encino S. (G2), Orchid H. (G2) and Chula Vista H. (G2). This is the family of Australian Group 1 victor Blue Murder (Bluebird) and a pair of Canadian champions in Steady Growth (Briartic) and Kingsbridge (Icecapade).