A weekly series analyzing recent maiden winners poised to join the Road to the Kentucky Derby:
Candy Machine: After finishing a strong second in his Feb. 29 debut sprinting at Gulfstream Park, Candy Machine broke through impressively in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race over the same track on Friday. Favored at 4-5 for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, Candy Machine was prominent from the outset under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, pressing or setting the pace through fractions of :23.90, :47.35, and 1:11.44. After spurting to a clear lead in the homestretch, Candy Machine dug deep to stem off a late charge from the well-bred Or’effice and prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:43.31.
Sold for $475,000 as a yearling, Candy Machine is owned by the partnership of Peter Brant and Three Chimneys Farm. A son of Candy Ride out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Viva Carina, who crossed the wire first in the 2013 Santa Barbara H. (G2) running 1 1/4 miles, Candy Machine is bred to thrive over classic distances and should only improve with maturity.
Sky Mischief: The fourth time was the charm for Sky Mischief, who finally broke his maiden in a 6-furlong sprint on Wednesday at Tampa Bay Downs. Previously fifth behind the promising Money Moves in a similar event at Gulfstream on Feb. 15, Sky Mischief was favored at 19-10 and rewarded his backers with a decisive triumph. After settling just off the pace through a :22.91 quarter, Sky Mischief swept to the front through a half-mile in :46.72 and pulled clear down the lane to score by three lengths in 1:11.53.
Trained by Michael Campbell, Sky Mischief is a son of top stallion Into Mischief out of the Sky Mesa mare Sky Mirage. Purchased by Mellon Patch for $240,000 as a yearling, Sky Mischief has the pedigree of a sprinter/miler more than a genuine route runner. But the jury will remain out on his distance proclivities until he actually tackles two turns, and with the benefit of a maiden victory under his belt, perhaps Sky Mischief will turn a corner and outrun expectations.