By: Byron King BloodHorse
Unlike most United States racetracks, Keeneland‘s grandstand faces west, appropriate for a Fall Stars weekend featuring so many winners looking ahead to Santa Anita Park and next month’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Among them after races Oct. 6 is Candied , who made a sweeping four-wide move and powered away to win the $600,000 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) for 2-year-old fillies by a length going two turns on the opening day of the track’s fall meet.
Candied, b, 2/f
Candy Ride (ARG) — Toni Tools, by Roaring Fever
Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (Aron Wellman)
Breeder: Buck Pond Farm, Inc. (KY)
Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
Jockey: Luis Saez
Information provided by Equibase at time of entry.
Candy Ride (ARG) stands at Lane’s End for $75,000 (2023).
FTKJUL2022 • $165,000 • Consignor: Buck Pond Farm • Buyer: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
As the Alcibiades heroine, Candied receives a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In berth to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park.
The winner raced 1:44.17 for the 1 1/16 miles over a fast track under Luis Saez, winning despite racing greenly. She did not switch leads through the stretch.
“She’s a filly who keeps learning; she has a big future,” Saez said. “The first time I got on her in the morning, I knew she was pretty special, and she just won this big race.”
V V’s Dream was second, followed by Alys Beach in third, 5 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up, in a field of eight. Shimmering Allure , Brightwork , Crazy Cami , Alpine Princess , and Wine on Tap completed the order of finish.
The previously unbeaten Brightwork, winner of the seven-furlong Spinaway Stakes (G1) in her last start, came up empty in her first route, beaten 10 1/4 lengths by the winner after pressing Alys Beach through moderate fractions of :23.84, :48.25, and 1:12.67.
“She just didn’t fire,” said her jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr. “She broke sharp, and I bided my time. Let’s regroup and see how she comes back. First time going two turns.”
Saez said the plan was to rate Candied behind the speed. She tracked in fifth for the opening half-mile of the race before moving up to fourth on the turn and taking command in the lane.
“We knew the speed was going to go, and that was the plan, to try to follow it and give them a surprise at the top of the stretch,” he said.
The winner, a 2-year-old daughter of Candy Ride, races for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. Pletcher and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners won their first Alcibiades. Saez picked up his second victory in the race after riding Simply Ravishing to take the 2020 renewal for trainer Kenny McPeek.
Coming off a single start, a maiden win at six furlongs at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 20, Candied paid $10.16 as the third betting choice. Stakes winners V V’s Dream and Brightwork were the first two favorites.
Acknowledging her inexperience, Pletcher said: “I thought the filly had the talent to do it; I was just concerned about the seasoning. Several of the fillies in here that we had to beat today had good, solid campaigns, and she was just making her second start.”
In observing her training before her debut and afterward, Pletcher said he had been impressed by “the way she was finishing her breezes and the way she was galloping out. And she was indicating to us that she was looking for more and more distance.”
Aron Wellman, president and founder of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, credited his trainer in a post-race interview following a cue from a fan in the grandstand, who, in celebration, shouted the trainer’s name with long enunciation for emphasis.
“Exactly what that gentleman on the apron just said: Todd Pletcher,” Wellman said, smiling.
He then turned his attention to his 2-for-2 runner, who banked $358,050 for the victory and increased her earnings to $415,800.
“She’s got some professionalism in terms of her lead switches to grow up to,” he said. “But look, as long as she’s running fast, I don’t care what lead she’s on, and Luis is so effective when it comes to horses like this. If they’re running for him, he lets them do their thing, and he doesn’t get in their way; he just encourages them.
“So, hopefully, we’re headed out to Santa Anita for the Juvenile Fillies in four weeks’ time.”
Pletcher, a 14-time Breeders’ Cup winner, has not yet trained a winner of the Juvenile Fillies.
Bred in Kentucky by Buck Pond Farm, Candied is out of the stakes-winning Roaring Fever mare Toni Tools . The dam, winner of the 2016 New York Stallion Series Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, is her first stakes winner from three foals of racing age. Another is a winner. The youngest is a Solomini colt born this year.
Candied was a $165,000 purchase by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners from her breeder’s consignment at The July Sale at Fasig-Tipton in Kentucky last year.
Candy Ride stood the 2023 season for an advertised fee of $75,000 at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky. The 24-year-old stallion has sired such graded winners this year as Geaux Rocket Ride , Heavenly Sunday , Confidence Game , Candy Man Rocket , and Hit Show .