GARY STEVENS, CANDY BOY, WINNER: “For a big horse he has a lot of acceleration and confidence on the turn. I was closer than I thought we were going to be today. He’s grown a lot lately, he’s grown but he’s also grown (mentally), too. I’ve been up for his last five works and we haven’t really squeezed the trigger yet. The gallop-out was huge today and I was already thinking about the Santa Anita Derby as we were galloping out around the turn. It was a lot of fun and he didn’t even take a deep breath after the race. He’s a super talent.
“He’s not a typical Candy Ride, he sits higher than others and he continues to grow. The further the better for him. He has a high cruising speed. I couldn’t believe the time. When we were coming back I saw the time was one-forty-one, with the first quarter in twenty-three and change but it felt like we were going twenty-five down the backside. He covers so much ground. When you set him down he really gets underneath you and gives you a really good feeling.
“He’s the number one draft choice for me. That was quite a performance he just put on against some pretty nice three-year-olds. We were quietly confident about him and we were in a good spot. Everybody was all over Midnight Hawk and we just got to sit back and be quiet the last few weeks. He’s been giving us all the right signals in the morning. I had high expectations coming into today and he pulled through and surpassed those expectations. I mean, during the gallop-out you’re still checking all the gauges and his were all still on full. Further will be better for him, he’s really matured mentally. He’s very intelligent and that’s what separates these horses from the mediocre horses. The lessons he learned over wintertime paid off and I don’t think we’re even halfway there yet with him.”
MARTIN GARCIA, CHITU, SECOND: “He took a misstep (soon after the start), I don’t know why. But he ran a good race, first time going two turns.”
MIKE SMITH, MIDNIGHT HAWK, THIRD: “He ran well today. Those were our best three year olds so I was really hoping he would kick on when I asked him. He was a bit keen early on. I really can’t give him a lot of excuses. I mean, I was there at the quarter-pole and I wasn’t at the wire. He was great today, he didn’t lug in at all. He was good; he just didn’t kick on.”
JOHN SADLER, CANDY BOY, WINNER: “Very good (ride by Gary Stevens). I just wanted Gary to be patient, because this horse runs a distance, no problem. He kind of had a premature move a little bit in the CashCall (Futurity Dec. 14). I think Gary will tell you that, you know, he moved him a little bit quick.
“Now he knows him a little better. He’s been on him a couple times in the morning, so we felt good going into today’s race.”
Asked if Candy Boy would remain here for his next race: “When you’re looking around the United States, weather everywhere else is terrible, so right now, I’m staying right here. They had to cancel at Oaklawn on Friday, so we’re not looking to go anywhere but to stay right in our own backyard.”
BOB BAFFERT, CHITU, SECOND, AND MIDNIGHT HAWK, 6-5 FAVORITE, THIRD: “He (Chitu) was in a good spot and ran a pretty good race. I think he deserves another chance – maybe slow him down a little bit, maybe take the blinkers off him. The winner’s a good horse and was in a good spot. Gary Stevens did a great job.”
On Midnight Hawk: “I liked his race a little better today. He got a little tired there. I backed off him a little because I’m trying to slow him down a little. I liked the way he sat off horses today. He wouldn’t do it before. He’s been a little bit of a project mentally to get him back, and he just got a little tired at the end. But he hung in there. That’s a pretty impressive time. When they run 1:41 and change, those are really good horses. We got beat by a really good horse today. I think they’re both good horses.”
NOTES: The winning owners/breeders are Lee and Susan Searing of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, who race as CRK Stable, LLC.
The Lewis is worth 10 points to the winner, four for second, two for third and one for fourth under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the May 3 Kentucky Derby should there be more than the maximum 20 entrants.