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2010 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Sidney's Candy

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ARCADIA, CA - APRIL 03: Jockey Joseph Talamo celebrates after riding Sidney's Candy to victory in the 73rd running of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 3, 2010 at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
ARCADIA, CA - APRIL 03: Jockey Joseph Talamo celebrates after riding Sidney's Candy to victory in the 73rd running of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 3, 2010 at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
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Sidney's Candy

Sidney's Candy

Sire: Candy Ride (ARG)
Dam: Fair Exchange (Storm Cat)
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Joe Talamo

Career Record: 6-4-1-0
Graded Earnings (rank): $630,000 (#4)

Running Style: Early Speed

There might not be a horse that will incite more debate prior to this year's Kentucky Derby than the winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Sidney's Candy.  Some believe he a complete toss while others believe he's going to run away with the Derby.  His running style in his past three races has been simple: speed, speed, and more speed.  Nobody has really been close to him early on in his races at Santa Anita, with this colt enjoying at least a length lead after six furlongs each and every time. 

This colt's last two route races saw him enjoy a very leisurely pace on the front end; the San Felipe went 48 and 2 for the half and 1:13 and 2 for six and the Santa Anita Derby saw splits of 48 and 2 and 1:12 and 1.  It is very likely that neither of those races saw an early pace that will compare to what he'll see on Derby day.

I've read a bunch of commentary lately that noting the impressive nature of the finishing times for Signey's Candy in his last few races.  I found those statements to be missing the point: of course Sidney's Candy came home well in his two route races, he didn't have any pressure up front to force him to waste any energy.  That's what happens when front runners get loose on the lead and put up light fractions, they come home very quickly.  I don't know that it means that he'll put up a great race if he's forced to take back and rate in the early going.  Horses are creatures of habit; they like to run how they like to run, and this horse likes to run (and win) out front.

How he got to the Derby: Southern California was the personal playground for Sidney's Candy this sprint, the rest of the three year olds were just visitors. 

Sidney's Candy began his 2010 Derby campaign by wiring the field in the Grade 2 San Vicente at seven furlongs.  He came a month later to once again lead every step of the way in the Grade 2 San Felipe, and he finished up his prep work with a (surprise) gate to wire score in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby

Sidney's Candy has made all seven of his lifetime starts over California's synthetic surfaces.

What has to happen for him to win: Like most of the speed horses in this field, Sidney's Candy will need to either show he can rate behind the early speed, or he'll need to run everyone else into the ground on the front end.  His pedigree is pretty solid in terms of stamina, so I don't think he'll be done in by his ancestry. 

Odds: 15/1

I've got Sidney's Candy at the lowest odds of any of the speed horses, and tied for the fourth lowest odds on my line, for two reasons.  First, whether I like his running style or not, the fact of the matter is that Sidney's Candy keeps winning races.  The name of the game is to win and that's what he does, he wins.  Second, even though it was only a maiden race at 5 ½ furlongs, this colt's race at Del Mar last August demonstrated that he can pass another horse in the stretch.  I don't know if that means he can rate in the Derby, or that he wants to run that kind of a race.  But unlike some of the other speed horses in the Derby, Sidney's Candy has actually passed another horse in the stretch to win a race at least once in his career.  Now, it was only one horse, so it's not like he closed like a freight train to pass the field in the shadow of the wire, but I've got to respect the possibility that he could rate.

The surface change is certainly an issue with this horse, but we've seen the SoCal horses transition from the ProRide at Santa Anita to conventional dirt pretty effectively during the prep season.  My issue with Sidney's Candy is the combination of his running style AND the surface switch AND the longer distance AND the likelihood of a quick early pace.  Those are a lot of factors to overcome.

Sidney's Candy is a horse that scares the hell out of me because a) I'm probably going to toss him in most of my plays due to the fact that I don't think his odds will be very good on Derby day (I'm guessing he'll be somewhere right around 10/1 at post time, maybe lower), and b) the SoCal horses have been very good this spring.  However, in the Derby you have to take a stand somewhere and Sidney's Candy will likely be my stand against.

Key Race: Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby

The analysis of this race is pretty simple: if you let Sidney's Candy click of furlongs in twelve second intervals you're going to be looking at his backside at the end of the race. 

I would have liked to have seen how close Lookin At Lucky could have gotten to Sidney's Candy had he not been cut off as the field was moving through the far turn.  I don't think there is any way the Sidney's Candy wouldn't have won that race, but would the gap been four and a half lengths?