· Candy My Boy Team Confident
· Can’thelpbelieving out of Muniz
· Closing Bell Gets Back to Turf in Muniz
· Ahh Chocolate Remains on Course for Graded Stakes
· Take the Stand Ready to Testify in Muniz
· Talented Sweet Acclaim Returns in Saturday Allowance
CANDY MY BOY TEAM CONFIDENT
Candy My Boy has the appearance of an outsider on paper going into Saturday’s Grade II $1,000,000 TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Exiting a fourth-place finish after setting the pace and fading to 2 ¼ lengths back at the finish in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 20, the two-time winner – both at Fair Grounds – will try to improve, while stepping up in trip for owner Frank Mancari and trainer Roger Brueggemann. Still, the Brueggemann camp is adamant that the son of Candy Ride and stakes winner Runway Rosie can run a big one in the 1 1/8 miles meet centerpiece.
“He’s training great,” Brueggemann said. “He did his last work in company but wasn’t being urged. I think he should be ready and he’s definitely feeling good.”
A feisty horse around the barn, Candy My Boy is what horse people call an ‘alpha’ in the barn. Such dominance, despite his somewhat small size, has also been on display on the racetrack twice this meet when the bay colt took a maiden special weight at a mile and 70 yards on New Year’s Eve and then returned just 18 days later to defeat Brittlyn Stable’s Louisiana Derby starter Forevamo in a one-mile allowance.
In the Risen Star, Candy My Boy drew post 11 of 11 and was forced to rush into contention earlier, ultimately taking over the lead and setting rapid fractions, including a half in 46 1/5 seconds. On Saturday, Brueggemann expects a more relaxed colt when Francisco Torres takes the reins.
“He doesn’t have to have the lead,” Brueggemann said. “If someone wants to go, they’re more than welcome. He can sit back. It’s a better post this time, that’s for sure.”
CAN’THELPBELIEVING OUT OF MUNIZ
According to trainer Graham Motion, Albert Frassetto’s Can’thelpbelieving did not ship from his Palm Meadows base in South Florida and will not run in the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The stakes-placed son of Duke of Marmalade exited a promising 5-year-old bow in which he finished second to next-out graded stakes winner Grand Tito.
CLOSING BELL GETS BACK TO TURF IN MUNIZ
WinStar Farm’s Closing Bell has long been both a well-regarded hope for his connections and also somewhat of an underachiever. A winner at second asking, the dark bay son of Tapit – a $400,000 Keeneland September 2013 purchase – was immediately hoisted into Grade I company in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby and ran respectably when fourth, beaten 4¼ lengths.
The Bill Mott trainee then ran a smart second in the Grade I $450,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington, defeating Belmont Derby winner Force the Pass in the process. One race later in his lone other victory, the Kentucky-bred won the $299,000 Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs, but has lost his last three, including Grade I events on both turf and dirt.
“The horse is doing really good right now,” said Rodolphe Brisset, assistant trainer, who also gallops the colt. “We took a shot last time in the (Grade I $500,000) Donn (Handicap on the dirt) and maybe were a little aggressive with him in California. I think this is a good spot and he’s training really well. The mile and an eighth should suit him. Hopefully (jockey Jose Lezcano) can find a good spot and make a run.”
AHH CHOCOLATE REMAINS ON COURSE FOR GRADED STAKES
Unbothered by a loss as the even-money favorite in the $50,000 Esplanade Stakes last weekend at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Stoneway Farm’s graded stakes winner Ahh Chocolate has exited that effort in top order and is on course for what could be a productive 2016.
“I thought she ran a nice race,” said trainer Neil Howard. “It would have been nice to win, but it was a little bit of a rough trip and she had a couple scrapes – all superficial. Her appetite is great and her next race will tell us where she is.”
Winner of the Grade II $200,000 Falls City Handicap on Nov. 26 two races back, the homebred daughter of Candy Ride could possibly come back in either the Grade I $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on Apr. 15 at Oaklawn Park or the Grade III $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland on Apr. 22.
“I think she’s up there with the better fillies out there right now,” Howard concluded. “She could have a good year.”
TAKE THE STAND READY TO TESTIFY IN MUNIZ
Argentine-bred Take the Stand began his career in his native country with a series of strong races, winning four of five and losing his only race when second by a head in his first route attempt. Two starts later, at the same one-mile distance, the son of Not For Sale – owned by Earle Mack, Watchtel Stable et al. – earned his first black type when taking a Group III event.
Sold to the aforementioned American interests, the dark bay horse has made five North American starts, including a victory going 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga in September. Last out, after being let go at odds of 61-1 in the Grade III $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, he set the pace before losing by a neck under Edgar Prado. The Bill Mott trainee heads into Saturday’s Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap as a horse to watch, especially considering his race-topping last-out Beyer Speed Figure of 101.
“He ran a really good race last time,” said Rodolphe Brisset, assistant trainer who also gallops the 5-year-old. “The distance step-up is not a big deal and we know there’s a rabbit in the race. We may keep our eyes on Chocolate Ride as he’s the horse to beat on paper, but the race is wide open and we’re not scared. Our horse is doing well and I’m hoping he runs as good as he is training. Edgar won’t get any advice or instructions. The horse is easy to ride. Last time he didn’t and he broke well and just would upon the lead.”
TALENTED SWEET ACCLAIM RETURNS IN SATURDAY ALLOWANCE
When the dust settles from the 103rd Grade II $1,000,000 TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby on Saturday, Mar. 26, there will still be five more races remaining on the 15-event card. Among those is the return of Swift Thoroughbreds and Bradley Thoroughbreds’ Sweet Acclaim, who was last seen racing for trainer Chad Brown and finishing fifth in the $100,000 Tenski Stakes on Aug. 11, 2014.
“We had her ready to run and just needed a little time after having a setback,” said new trainer Brad Cox. “She had run with some good fillies and had some time off. Fitness-wise, I think she’s ready. The layoff is always a bit of a concern, but she’s very talented. Pete Bradley sent her to me last summer and we have a few horses for him. She’s ready.”
After two starts in England in the fall of her 2-year-old campaign, including a third to subsequent classic winner Miss France in the Group III $64,200 Oh So Sharp Stakes for trainer Noel Quinlan, the daughter of Acclamation placed in three consecutive stakes, including the Grade III $150,000 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland, $98,000 Wait a While Stakes at Belmont and $100,000 Wild Applause Stakes at Belmont. After fourth- and fifth-place finishes in stakes company at Saratoga – both beaten by two lengths in blanket finishes, she was given time off and later resurfaced under Cox’s care.
Saturday’s race, which goes as the 13th on the card, is slated for a mile on the Stall-Wilson turf course, a distance at which the late-running filly has yet to win, but has twice finished in the money from a triad of tries. The bay mare finished up her serious preparation for her return with a smart half-mile drill in 48.20 on Mar. 13 – the 7th-best of 99 moves at the distance.