Candy Boy rallies past Chitu to win Lewis Stakes

Candy Boy (No. 1) with Gary Stevens abaord, runs past Chitu to win the Robert B. Lewis Stakes Saturday and earn 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby.
  • Candy Boy with Gary Stevens aboard won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes Saturday.
  • The race was worth 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby for Candy Boy.
  • Favored Midnight Hawk finished third.
  • Candy Boy, with ageless Gary Stevens aboard, rallied past Chitu to win the $250,000, Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

    With the victory, Candy Boy earns 10 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Chitu (pronounced Sheetoo), who went off at 9-2, finished second and Midnight Hawk, the 6-5 race favorite ridden by Mike Smith, finished third.

    Candy Boy, trained by John Sadler, covered the 1 1/16-mile dirt track in 1:41 4/5. He paid $6.60, $3.20 and $2.20. Candy Boy hiked his earnings to $305,600 and now has two wins and two seconds from six starts.

    “For a big horse he has a lot of acceleration and confidence on the turn,” the 50-year-old Stevens said. “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.”.

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    Midnight Hawk, undefeated coming in and favored on the strength of his win in the one mile, Grade III Sham Stakes on Jan. 11, tried to stay with Chitu the final eighth, but was third best, finishing 4¼ lengths in front of Diamond Bachelor.

    “He ran well today,” said Smith of the favorite. “Those were our best 3-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 didn’t lug in at all…He just didn’t kick on.”.

    Sadler called Stevens’ ride aboard Candy Boy “very good. 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.”.

    Bob Baffert, the trainer for Chitu and Midnight Hawk, said, “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.”.

    Sadler said Candy Boy’s next race would likely be the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5. “When you’re looking around the United States, weather everywhere else is terrible, so right now, I’m staying right here,” he said. “They had to cancel at Oaklawn (Ark.) On Friday, so we’re not looking to go anywhere but to stay right in our own backyard.”.

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    In addition to Candy Boy’s 10 points for the win, Chitu got four points for second, and Midnight Hawk collected two for third 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.

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