Chocolate Candy, runner-up in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby and one of four major Kentucky Derby contenders based in Southern California, worked five furlongs under new rider Mike Smith on Pro-Ride Sunday in :59.20. The son of Candy Ride is scheduled to leave Tuesday for Louisville to prepare for the 135th Kentucky Derby on May 2.

“I was happy with the work,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “Mike was able to familiarize himself with the horse, and he’s going to work the horse two times at Churchill Downs.”

Chocolate Candy, second by a length to Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby, won the Grade III El Camino Real Derby and the California Derby earlier this year.

“Mike was very happy,” added Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward. “We leave at 2 a.m. Tuesday.”

In addition to Chocolate Candy and Pioneerof the Nile, Southern California-based I Want Revenge and Papa Clem have emerged as favorites for the Run for the Roses. I Want Revenge was beaten twice by Pioneerof the Nile, in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last Dec. 20, and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7, before shipping east to win the Gotham Stakes and the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Papa Clem was second by a half-length to Pioneerof the Nile in the Lewis before leaving town to run second in the Louisiana Derby and defeat odds-on favorite Old Fashioned in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby. “The California horses seem to be doing well,” Hollendorfer said.

“It means nothing now,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Pioneerof the Nile. “What will be meaningful is how they’re doing the week of the Derby. We know we have good horses here. We knew that going in. I bet on Papa Clem yesterday.”

Dennis O’Neill, brother and associate of trainer Doug O’Neill, said Square Eddie leaves Tuesday morning for Keeneland where he runs in Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Square Eddie worked six furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Saturday in 1:12.20, breezing. Square Eddie was second to Midshipman in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Oak Tree last Oct. 25, a race in which Pioneerof the Nile finished fifth by almost three lengths.

“Square Eddie belongs with these horses,” Dennis said. “It’s just a question of fitness, I guess, at this point. The way he worked yesterday, and hopefully, with a race into him Saturday, we’ll be close (for the Derby).”

In a change in his colt’s schedule, Baffert said Pioneerof the Nile would work at Santa Anita Wednesday and ship Thursday to Churchill Downs, where two workouts are scheduled before the Derby. Initially, Baffert considered working the Santa Anita Derby winner Monday for a Tuesday departure.

Baffert still had no commitment from Garrett Gomez on Pioneerof the Nile for the Derby. The nation’s Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey the last two years also is the rider of Florida Derby runner-up Dunkirk for Todd Pletcher.

“(Ron) Anderson (agent for Gomez) is supposed to let me know after this weekend,” Baffert said. “I haven’t even thought about a backup (rider).”

Mel Stute, 81-year-old trainer and father of Gary Stute, asked if he gave his son any advice before Papa Clem won the Arkansas Derby: “No. That’s probably why he won.”


Bo Hirsch, owner/breeder of Papa Clem, and trainer Gary Stute, will be guests on HRTV’s “Across the Board” Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Thanks to his victory in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby, Papa Clem has soared to No. 3 from No. 8 on Jon White’s weekly Kentucky Derby Top 10 list.

“The Arkansas Derby is yet another example of the strength of Southern California’s 3-year-olds in general and Santa Anita’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes in particular,” said White, a commentator for HRTV and the Santa Anita simulcast network. “Pioneerof the Nile won the Lewis on Feb. 7, with Papa Clem second and I Want Revenge third. Look at what those three have accomplished since then.

“Pioneerof the Nile has won both the San Felipe Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. I Want Revenge won the Gotham Stakes and Wood Memorial. And now Papa Clem takes the Arkansas Derby. So the first three finishers in the Lewis have gone on to win important races all over the country.”

Here is White’s current Kentucky Derby Top 10: (1) Pioneerof the Nile, (2) I Want Revenge, (3) Papa Clem, (4) Quality Road, (5) Chocolate Candy, (6) Friesan Fire, (7) Dunkirk, (8) Musket Man, (9) Mr. Hot Stuff, (10) Desert Party.

“Pioneerof the Nile has defeated I Want Revenge twice and Papa Clem once, so the performances by I Want Revenge in New York and Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby certainly flatter Pioneerof the Nile,” White said. “I honestly believe that Pioneerof the Nile might sweep the Triple Crown. I felt the same way about Point Given after he won the Santa Anita Derby because I thought the Belmont Stakes, which has ended so many Triple Crown dreams, was going to be the best fit for Point Given of all the Triple Crown races.

“Well, Point Given won the Belmont by about a block (12 ¼ lengths) after taking the Preakness, but there was no Triple Crown on the line because he finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby. I also think the Belmont Stakes will suit Pioneerof the Nile the best of the Triple Crown races. His long stride is perfect for the Belmont. Not only that, his sire (Empire Maker) won the Belmont.”
“It’s also a plus that Bob Baffert (Pioneerof the Nile’s trainer) twice has come close to winning the Triple Crown. Silver Charm came within three-quarters of a length of doing it. Real Quiet came within a nose. Pioneerof the Nile embarks on his Triple Crown quest with an even better resume than Silver Charm and Real Quiet. Silver Charm and Real Quiet were unable to win the San Felipe Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. Pioneerof the Nile won both of those races.”

What about the fact that Pioneerof the Nile has never raced on the dirt?

“In my opinion, based on Pioneerof the Nile’s pedigree, there’s a strong likelihood that he will do quite well on the dirt, just like I Want Revenge and Papa Clem,” White said. “Also consider what a number of other horses running on Santa Anita’s synthetic track have accomplished this year when they left California and raced on dirt. After winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Santa Anita’s synthetic surface, Albertus Maximus won the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on the dirt. And Well Armed lost twice on Santa Anita’s synthetic track this year, then won the Dubai World Cup by a record 14 lengths on the dirt.”


An exploration of the rich racing history of Gulfstream Park is featured on HRTV’s “Inside Information,” tonight at 6 p.m.

Gulfstream Park is one of racing's most celebrated facilities, and its annual winter meeting is one of the game's most anticipated. Gulfstream first opened for racing on Feb. 1, 1939.

Gulfstream faced some difficult times in its infancy. The track closed during World War II, and wasn't re-opened until 1944, after it was taken over by James Donn. It has served as the proving ground for countless racing greats, as well as the stage for some of the sport's most significant races. The Grade I Florida Derby, a leading stepping-stone to the Kentucky Derby, was the first race in the state to offer a $100,000 purse.

In 1994, Holy Bull won the Florida Derby en route to Horse of the Year honors. A year later, the brilliant Cigar won the Donn and Gulfstream Park handicaps on the road to an undefeated season and Horse of the Year honors. In September, 1999, Gulfstream Park was sold to Magna Entertainment Corporation, and plans were soon developed for a massive renovation of the facility, to keep Gulfstream healthy in a new era of racing.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2004 meet, the old grandstand, clubhouse and some of the backside barns were leveled. The following season, temporary structures were used as work progressed on a state-of-the-art clubhouse. The track is now considered a model for the future. It contains two restaurants, two casinos and a shopping mall is being constructed.

“There were other people who had looked at an urban center for a major U.S. sport facility. An arena, a football field, a baseball stadium, most have gone into tight infield urban situations,” said Stephen McCasey, special assistant to the MEC Board of Directors. “Gulfstream Park sits on 260 acres and we decided that we would create a shopping experience as a destination, but with a sport anchor. And our sport anchor is the sport of thoroughbred horseracing.”


The first retirement roundtable hosted April 8 by the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA) at Santa Anita was a success, particularly for one injured racehorse in Northern California. CARMA Board members stepped up to pay for a necessary surgery for Fabuloso, a 4-year-old filly by Smoke Glacken with a hind ankle fracture. Her prognosis for a full recovery and life in a second career is excellent.

Fabuloso’s fate was brought to the attention of the group by Bonnie Adams of CANTER (Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses). She joined more than 40 representatives of retirement and rescue organizations. Participants included Caroline Betts of Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue, Grace Belcuore of CERF, Pricilla Clark of Tranquility Farm, Dawn Mellen of After the Finish Line, Joell Dunlap of Square Peg Foundation, Helen Meredith of United Pegasus Foundation, Susan Schwartz of Heaven Can Wait, and Karin Wagner of Neigh Savers Foundation. Representing CARMA were Madeline Auerbach, Board Chair, board member Jan Hawthorne, Marsha Naify, Vice Chair, and Executive Director Lucinda Mandella.

Also in attendance was Dr. Jaymie Noland of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who presented information on a pilot program currently underway to evaluate and place ex-racehorses. Currently, two horses are being evaluated by students on conformation, medical condition and injuries, soundness, and temperament. Once the evaluation is complete the horses will be available for sale into appropriate careers. The goal is to build a program that can be duplicated in other university systems.

CARMA’s goal in hosting the “Racehorse Retirement Roundtable” was to bring together representatives from non-profit groups working to save ex-racehorses. Discussions focused on the long-term plans of the major retirement facilities in California for perpetual operation, networking and communication between retirement groups, and resources for improved operation and efficiency by non-profit groups.

Auerbach stressed the importance of all the organizations working together and supporting each other in trying to do what is best for the horses. The discussion focused on how that goal can be achieved. “We have to put our differences aside and do what is best for the horses. I have no doubt that everyone in this room is as big a horse-lover as I am,” said Auerbach. “They have to come first.”

FINISH LINES: My Maloof Rocker’s victory in Saturday’s second race gave the sire Unusual Heat his 28th victory at Santa Anita this meet, adding to his record. Unusual Heat sired 26 winners at Santa Anita last season . . . Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic champion Zenyatta worked six furlongs at Hollywood Saturday in a bullet 1:10.60 for John Shirreffs . . . Sunland Derby winner Kelly Leak worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Saturday in :48.20, breezing, for the May 9 Lone Star Derby . . . Isaias Enriquez moved his tack to Sunland Park in New Mexico after finishing fourth on Caribbean’s Comic in Saturday’s third race. The 35-year-old Tijuana native was winless from 65 mounts at Santa Anita this meet. He had four seconds and six thirds. “I ride three horses there on Tuesday,” Enriquez said after dismounting from Caribbean’s Comic. “I’m not leaving just because I didn’t win here,” Enriquez continued. “It’s tough for everybody. The economy hit California very hard. I’m not the only one struggling right now. If it was just me, I would be asking myself what I’m doing wrong, but I see a bunch of riders who are struggling, and I’m not going to wait here until the boat sinks.” . . . Fellow countryman Martin Garcia, a native of Veracruz, ended a 59-race winless streak when he urged I Am Madison’s to a half-length victory in Saturday’s third race. Garcia’s last win before that came March 19 aboard Unusual Smoke for A.C. Avila. “Sometimes that happens,” the 24-year-old Garcia said about the drought. “I still have confidence, but it gets a little frustrating. I’ve been trying so hard and come close lots of times (second by a nose on Unusual Smile in Friday’s seventh race, and 10 seconds overall during the winless span).” . . . Martin Pedroza, who suffered a fractured pelvis in a racing mishap on Jan. 11, is working towards his return. “He was here the other morning, and he’s doing great,” said agent Richie Silverstein. “He’s going to the gym, exercises every day and he’s on a rehab program. We were hoping to make May 1, but realistically, he’s still six weeks away, so that puts us closer to the first of June. The middle of Hollywood Park meet is a very realistic starting point.” . . . Mike Mitchell and John Sadler, first and second in Santa Anita’s trainers’ race with a combined 310 starters, did not run a horse on Saturday’s nine-race card . . . Joe Talamo rides Santa Maria winner Santa Terisita for Eric Guillot next Saturday in the Grade III, $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap at 1 1/8 miles at Hawthorne.