Candy Boy motors past Midnight Hawk and Chitu to win the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens captured the hearts of many when his comeback from retirement last year yielded a ninth classic victory aboard Oxbow in the Preakness Stakes.
Talented 3-year-old Candy Boy had Stevens dreaming of another run at the Triple Crown series on Saturday at Santa Anita Park, where he defeated a strong field in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes to cement his status as a Kentucky Derby contender.
“For a big horse, he actually has a lot of acceleration,” said Stevens, who added that Candy Boy had developed nicely both physically and mentally over the winter. “I was already thinking about the Santa Anita Derby as we were galloping out around the turn. It was a lot of fun and he didn’t even take a deep breath after the race.”
Candy Boy broke nicely for Stevens and settled into a comfortable stalking position on the inside just behind pacesetter Diamond Bachelor and Chitu. Favored Midnight Hawk, the Sham Stakes winner, moved past Candy Boy on the backstretch into third and was in an ideal position on the outside through three-quarters of a mile in 1:10.84.
Chitu took command near the top of the stretch with Midnight Hawn on his outside, but neither could match strides with Candy Boy in deep stretch. Stevens angled Candy Boy to the outside leaving the final turn and the bay Candy Ride colt reeled in Midnight Hawk first and then Chitu to win by a half-length.
STEVENS AFTER WINNING ABOARD CANDY BOY
Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Chitu finished second in his first try in a stakes races. He was 1 ¼ lengths clear of Midnight Hawk.
John Sadler trains Candy Boy for owner C R K Stables, the racing operation of his breeders, Lee and Susan Searing. The racing operation is named for the couple’s three children, Christina, Richard and Katherine.
Candy Boy completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.83 to improve to two wins and two seconds in six career starts. He finished second to eventual champion Shared Belief in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity to close his 2-year-old season and was making his 2014 debut in the Robert B. Lewis.
The win earned Candy Boy 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. The Road to the Kentucky Derby points system determines which 3-year-olds earn a starting spot for the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Candy Boy is tied for seventh with nine other 3-year-olds with 10 points. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Havana, Holy Bull Stakes winner Cairo Prince and Remsen Stakes winner Honor Code are tied atop the leaderboard with 14 points. Midnight Hawk moved up to fourth, tied with Tapiture with 12 points, with his two points earned for finishing third in the Lewis.
Candy Boy is one of two winners produced by stakes winner She’s an Eleven, by In Excess.
The Santa Catalina Stakes was renamed the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in 2007 to honor one of the sport's most respected owners after he died in 2006. In 2012, I’ll Have Another won the race en route to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
For an Equibase chart, click here.
GARY STEVENS: THE COMEBACK KID