Jockey Gary Stevens may have found his Derby horse after Candy Ride, rating in the fifth along the rail behind the early speed, rallied down the middle of the track to win the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday afternoon.
Post time favorite Midnight Hawk, sent to the gate at odds of 6/5, sat fourth in the early stages, just to the outside of Candy Boy for much of the run down the backstretch. As the field moved off of the far turn, Midnight Hawk sprinted away from Candy Boy as he engaged the leaders at the top of the stretch. Stevens, not panicking and apparently sensing that he had a lot of horse underneath him, asked Candy Boy for more run and brought him four-wide into the home straight. Once the winner found his stride inside the final quarter mile, it was merely a question as to whether or not he had enough time to run down the leaders. He had plenty of time and won by three-quarters of a length over Chitu at the wire.
Chitu pressed the early pace and held well in the late stages to finish second at the wire, while Midnight Hawk and Diamond Bachelor finished third and fourth, respectively.
Midnight Hawk's run was tremendously disappointing as he really didn't have any excuses at all. As mentioned above, he sat fourth early right behind a trio of horses carving out very nice fractions of 23.33 and 46 flat for the first half mile and had the tactical advantage over Candy Boy as the field entered the far turn. The race set up perfectly for the son of Midnight Lute but he was clearly a one-paced horse when asked for more run in the late stages,. Perhaps he needs to more forwardly placed early, perhaps he just wasn't on his game today, or perhaps 8.5 furlongs is simply not his ideal trip. Whatever the reason, he was no match for the winner.
Candy Boy, on the other hand, looked very professional in winning the Lewis. As the field moved to the mid-way point on the far turn, the leading three briefly pulled away from the winner and it appeared (for a moment) that perhaps he was not going to make a run. But as soon as it looked as if he might lose touch with the leaders, Candy Boy responded to the urging of Stevens and smoothly moved up to challenge the top two inside the final quarter mile. Steven went to the stick several times as he angled Candy Boy off the rail and then kept his mind on business as the winner extended his stride to run down Chitu at the wire.
Candy Boy is a three-year-old colt by Candy Ride (ARG) out of an In Excess (IRE) mare (She's An Elven), trained by John Sadler and ridden by Gary Stevens. With his victory in the Lewis Stakes, Candy Boy picked up 10 points towards qualification for the 2014 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The Lewis was also the first graded stakes victory for Candy Boy.
Below are the payouts, fractions and internal splits from the Lewis Stakes, along with the race replay video from the SantaAnitaParkLive YouTube channel:
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