Pedigree notebook: Sweet cross on display in Candy Man Rocket

February 28th, 2023

There’s a lot of pedigree coverage for contenders on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, but what about all the other divisions in Thoroughbred racing? This is a space to highlight a wider range of pedigree musings.

Candy Man Rocket – Gulfstream Park Sprint

Although Candy Ride has secured his legacy at stud through his red-hot star Gun Runner and other stallion sons in the pipeline, the 24-year-old Argentine gentleman isn’t resting on his laurels. Candy Ride just sent out his second Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby prep winner in Rebel (G2) hero Confidence Game, following the smashing Hit Show in the Withers (G3). Both are out of mares from the line of Seattle Slew’s Hall of Fame son A.P. Indy. Geaux Rocket Ride will attempt to join them on the Derby leaderboard in Saturday’s San Felipe (G2).

Yet another son, five-year-old Candy Man Rocket, contributed to his sire’s purple patch in this past Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Sprint. The winner of the 2021 Sam F. Davis (G3) when trying the Derby trail himself, Candy Man Rocket ultimately found his niche in sprints.

Aside from his reminder that Candy Ride also gets sharp sprinters, Candy Man Rocket is a further example of his cross with Storm Cat-line mares.

Candy Man Rocket is out of Kenny Lane, by the Storm Cat stallion Forestry. Kenny Lane was herself produced by a Mr. Prospector mare, thus doubling up on his influence already present as the male-line ancestor of Candy Ride.

The venerable Seattle Slew pops up as the sire of Kenny Lane’s granddam – Candy Man Rocket’s third dam – and the fourth dam is Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee. Thus Candy Man Rocket hails from the rich family of champion Althea (ancestress of Arch, champion Covfefe, and recent Heavenly Prize S. romper Frost Point) and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) victor Bayern, among others.

Also bred on the Candy Ride/Forestry angle is Chewing Gum. He’s likewise most effective as a sprinter but on turf, for the same trainer in Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Chewing Gum got up in time in the 2022 Joe Hernandez (G2) at Santa Anita and placed in four New York turf sprints, most notably the 2021 Jaipur (G1) to stablemate Casa Creed. Interestingly, he has Mr. Prospector on his maternal side too. Chewing Gum’s dam, Shared Heart, is herself out of a mare by the “Mr. P” stallion Seeking the Gold.

Candy Ride and Storm Cat mares

Candy Ride furnished several standouts from daughters of Storm Cat himself, chief among them champion Shared Belief. The victim of misfortune in his only two losses, Shared Belief arguably could have racked up more Eclipse Awards if not for his premature passing. To mention only three of his stunning victories, the 2014 Pacific Classic (G1) and 2015 Santa Anita H. (G1), along with his San Antonio (G2) rout of California Chrome, stamped him as exceptional.

Grade 1-winning millionaire Sidney’s Candy excelled on synthetic and turf, but he also dominated the 2010 Sir Beaufort (G3) that was transferred to Santa Anita’s new dirt surface. Sidney’s Candy’s full brother, Grade 3 victor Sweet Swap, was best as a turf dasher. Sparky Ville, the 2019 San Vicente (G2) winner, also won sprinting on turf and just missed in the 2020 Daytona (G3). Grade 3 queen Tiger Ride was similarly versatile, winning stakes on both dirt and turf and finishing second in the 2016 Beldame (G1).

Multiple stakes scorers and graded-placed performers Candip and Nonna Madeline, both bred by WinStar Farm, were produced by virtually carbon-copy mares (on paper). Their Storm Cat dams were in turn out of mares bred on the pattern of A.P. Indy over Mr. Prospector over Northern Dancer.

The Candy Ride/Giant’s Causeway connection

The obvious advertisement of Candy Ride’s broader success with the Storm Cat line is Gun Runner, whose dam, Grade 2 winner Quiet Giant, is by Giant’s Causeway. Quiet Giant is famously a half-sister to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, both out of the prolific Quiet Dance, by Quiet American. That means Mr. P’s turning up again, here via his son Fappiano who sired Quiet American. Candy Ride is himself an exponent of the Fappiano sector of Mr. P, so Gun Runner sports a duplication of Fappiano.

Other noteworthy Candy Rides from Giant’s Causeway mares include Liora, the 2018 Golden Rod (G2) winner and 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up, and Canadian Grade 2 scorer Rideforthecause. Both of their granddams are by Mr. P-line sires (Gold Fever and Thunder Gulch, respectively).

Additional vectors of Storm Cat

Out of Forest Wildcat mares, Candy Ride got 2009 La Brea (G1) vixen Evita Argentina, Grade 3 winners Looking Cool and Chocolate Kisses, and $638,038-earner Nun the Less. Less prominent scions of Storm Cat have popped up as broodmare sires as well. Storm Creek plays that role for 2009 King’s Bishop (G1) hero Capt. Candyman Can and multiple Grade 1-placed stakes winner Red Vine. Sea the Secrets and Tiger Ridge, respectively, sired the dams of Grade 3 scorers Candyman E and Nicodemus, while classy New York-bred Senbei is out of a Western Cat mare.

At the risk of belaboring the point, Storm Cat can lurk underneath too. Candy Ride’s unbeaten son Mastery, a prime candidate for the 2017 Kentucky Derby before his career was cut short, is bred on the established cross with an A.P. Indy-line mare. But Mastery’s second dam is by Storm Cat (and out of a Mr. P mare). Rock Your World, the 2021 Santa Anita Derby (G1) star, is out of an Empire Maker mare, but his second dam is by Giant’s Causeway.

And to go even deeper into the weeds, another of Candy Ride’s Grade 1 winners, Leofric, offers a different spin. He doesn’t have Storm Cat, but his second dam is bred on the same cross as Storm Cat – by Storm Bird out of a Secretariat mare. An echo of this occurs in the pedigree of Candy Ride’s Grade 2 victor Unified, whose third dam (great-granddam) is similarly a Storm Bird over Secretariat production.

The next generation

Candy Ride’s sons are exploiting this Storm Cat angle as well, as we saw from Aqueduct to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Maker’s Candy, by Twirling Candy and out of a Bluegrass Cat mare, was first past the post in the Gander S. but demoted for interference. Several of Twirling Candy’s major winners feature the Storm Cat cross – e.g., 2021 Preakness (G1) star Rombauer, Pinehurst, Law Abidin Citizen, Bob and Jackie, One Bad Boy, and Evvie Jets – so perhaps Maker’s Candy can add to the list eventually.

Gun Runner’s son Gunite, who just finished second in Saturday’s Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3), is out of a mare by the Giant’s Causeway stallion Cowboy Cal. In light of Gun Runner’s own relationship with Giant’s Causeway, that gives Gunite close inbreeding to the “Iron Horse.”