Danzing Candy represents the third generation of a “Candy” sire line that his breeder, Halo Farms’ Ted Aroney, knows well.
Aroney’s friends, Sid and Jenny Craig, imported an unbeaten Argentinean champion named Candy Ride. The brilliant performer stayed perfect in three US starts, crowned by a track record-setting defeat of Medaglia d’Oro in the 2003 Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. Now a top sire, Candy Ride has a son, Gun Runner, as well as grandson Danzing Candy in the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Danzing Candy is by Candy Ride’s son Twirling Candy, who was bred by the Craigs. Twirling Candy was only a yearling when Sid died. Jenny went on to campaign him in the name of the Craig Family Trust, and Aroney helped by serving as an adviser. Twirling Candy proved a worthy son of Candy Ride, winning several major races and breaking Spectacular Bid’s track record in the 2010 Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita.
When Twirling Candy retired to stud at Lane’s End near Versailles, Kentucky, Aroney wanted to send quality mares to him. Accordingly, he asked bloodstock agent Gayle Van Leer to scout out some suitable mates for the new stallion.
Van Leer has a “good eye for mares,” Aroney said, citing the example of how she found Jealous Wildcat as a match for Candy Ride, resulting in the breeding of 2009 La Brea (G1) winner Evita Argentina.
At the 2011 Keeneland November Sale, Van Leer struck again when identifying Talkin and Singing as a good fit for Twirling Candy. The mare was purchased for a bargain $50,000.
Talkin and Singing visited Twirling Candy during his first season at stud in 2012, and the happy outcome is Danzing Candy.
“The absolute image of Twirling Candy -- total image,” Aroney said of the dark bay colt, who’s “feisty and would take a bite out of you.”
Foaled at Lane’s End, Danzing Candy spent his babyhood in the Bluegrass. But with his connections being based in California, he headed out west as a yearling. He initially took up residence at Craig’s Rancho Paseana in Rancho Santa Fe, California. That farm was later sold to Bill Gates, and Danzing Candy moved to Hemet, where his “breaking” (learning to accept the saddle and rider) was completed.
Then Danzing Candy changed his address to trainer Cliff Sise Jr.’s base at San Luis Rey and geared up for his career debut. But he wasn’t too happy to be sent to Del Mar last summer.
“When he first came to Del Mar, you could hear him all over the backside,” Aroney said. “He wasn’t used to being around horses.”
So the 2-year-old returned to the more tranquil environs of San Luis Rey, and resumed preparations for his first start. By the time of Del Mar’s “Bing Crosby season” that fall, Danzing Candy was ready to run for Aroney and his co-owners, Jim and Dianne Bashor. Although only eighth that day, he learned from that experience, and took giant strides thereafter.
“He came around slowly,” Aroney observed.
“We thought he was third best” of their youngsters, but as he “developed, he grew into the ‘first best.’
“It took him a little while to get going, but he’s doing good now.”
Aroney is forecasting a big effort from the projected pacesetter, who’ll try to carry his high cruising speed all the way in Derby 142.
“He’s gonna be there. He’s gonna show up. He’ll be as good a 20-1 shot as you’ll find.”
Photo courtesy Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.