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Santa Anita Derby hopefuls, Nyquist work at Santa Anita over the weekend

By TwinSpires Staff

Edited Press Release

Danzing Candy, front-running winner of the San Felipe (G2) on March 12, worked five furlongs over Santa Anita Park’s fast dirt Saturday morning in a bullet :58.60 with regular rider Mike Smith in the irons.

The Twirling Candy colt, who is readying for the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) going at 1 1/8 miles on April 9, recorded the swiftest of 54 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:01.47.

“I didn’t want to go quite that fast,” trainer Cliff Sise Jr. admitted. “I wanted to go in like a minute and change, but he got some air in him today.”

Danzing Candy worked in company with Richard Baltas trainee Far Out Kailee, who was timed in 1:00.20.

Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson gave Danzing Candy fractional times of :22.80 and :46.40, with a six-furlong gallop-out clocking of 1:12.

Also working Saturday for the Santa Anita Derby were Grade 3 victor and San Felipe third Exaggerator for Keith Desormeaux, and multiple stakes hero and San Felipe fifth Smokey Image for Carla Gaines. Each went five furlongs, Exaggerator in 1:00.40 under Kent Desormeaux and Smokey Image in 59.60.

Exaggerator’s splits were :24, :36 and :48.60, with a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:13.80.

“It was a normal work and he did it easily,” Keith Desormeaux said. “No complaints.”

In other Santa Anita Derby news, Iron Rob and Denman’s Call, the respective one-two finishers in the six-furlong San Pedro on March 20, are being pointed to the 1 1/8-mile contest.

Iron Rob, a bay Twirling Candy colt who upset 2-5 favorite Denman’s Call by 1 1/2 lengths in the San Pedro, will retain jockey Stewart Elliott for the Derby, trainer George Papaprodromou said. Rafael Bejarano replaces Flavien Prat on Denman’s Call in the Santa Anita Derby, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.

“We’ll try to stretch him out,” Papaprodromou said of Iron Rob, who was nearly 10-1 when he won the San Pedro. “It’s worth taking a shot.”

In addition to Danzing Candy, Exaggerator, Smokey Image and the two newcomers, the Santa Anita Derby is expected to include Grade 1 winner Mor Spirit, runner-up in the San Felipe, and Grade 3-placed Uncle Lino, who ran fourth in the San Felipe.

In other work related news out of Santa Anita Park, undefeated champion Nyquist covered five furlongs Friday morning in 1:03 under Jonny Garcia.

It was the Uncle Mo colt’s final major drill before leaving Monday for Florida where he will face fellow unbeaten Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful Mohaymen in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on April 2.

Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson had Nyquist going the last half-mile in :49.60. Nyquist worked with stablemate Pay the Fine who was timed in 1:04.40.

“It was a good drill,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “Nyquist finished up really strong and I’m very optimistic about next week.

“He’ll walk (Saturday), track Sunday, and fly out on Monday. That’s the plan. I’ll be leaving the same day.”

Danzing Candy photo courtesy of Benoit Photos