Sidney’s Candy heads Oak Tree Mile; contentious field set for Ancient Title
Sidney’s Candy displayed an affinity for the sod when recording a convincing 5 1/2-length tally in the August 14 G2 La Jolla Handicap, and the Grade 1 winner will look to further enhance his Breeders’ Cup Mile credentials when he heads to the post in Saturday’s G2 $150,000 Oak Tree Mile at Hollywood Park. The John Sadler-trained three-year-old will make his second turf foray against six rivals.
The Oak Tree Mile shares the spotlight with the G1 $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes, which will feature a fine field of eight sprinters that includes Grade 1 winners Cost Of Freedom, Dancing In Silks, E Z’s Gentleman and Smiling Tiger.
Sidney’s Candy established himself as a top Kentucky Derby contender with smashing victories in the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe and San Vicente, but he struggled over the sloppy track at Churchill Downs and finished 17th on Derby Day. Following a freshening, he returned to the races with a head second in the G2 Swaps Stakes over Cushion Track and was then re-routed to turf by Sadler.
Sidney’s Candy ran away from his rivals in the La Jolla, opening up by double-digit lengths on the lead before being throttled down late, and received an excellent 104 BRIS Speed rating. The front-running colt will be heavily favored in his first start against older horse Saturday, and Joel Rosario rides.
Shoemaker Mile (G1) hero VICTOR’S CRY (Street Cry [Ire]) is the top threat. Second in the Eddie Read (G1) two back, the Eoin Harty charge will look to rebound from a disappointing ninth in the Woodbine Mile (Can-G1). Grade 2 winner METEORE (Pulpit), who exits a fast-finishing second in the Del Mar Mile H. (G2) for Richard Mandella, also merits respect.
Three races later, Cost of Freedom will go for his second Ancient Title win after capturing the 2008 edition. He finished fourth in 2009 prior to a head third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), but didn’t fire when trying the turf for the first time in the Green Flash H. last time. The seven-year-old gelding has always run well over the Hollywood Cushion Track for Sadler, though, and could be favored Saturday with new jockey Alonso Quinonez.
The connections of Smiling Tiger opted for the six-furlong Ancient Title over Saturday’s Gallant Bob H. at the former Philadelphia Park. Winner of the Lazaro Barrera Memorial S. (G3) in his most recent appearance at Hollywood Park, the three-year-old went on to defeat older horses in the August 1 Bing Crosby S. (G1). The Jeff Bonde trainee exits a third in the Pat O’Brien S. (G1) and will be re-united with Hall of Famer Russell Baze.
Dancing in Silks is the defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion and owns a two-for-four mark at Hollywood for Carla Gaines, but the five-year-old gelding is winless in three starts this season. Joel Rosario will retain the mount. E Z’s Gentleman captured the Triple Bend H. (G1) two starts back, registering a commendable 106 BRIS Speed rating for the 3 1/4-length decision, and the Bob Baffert pupil exits a third in the Bing Crosby. Martin Garcia has the mount.