Arcadia, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Saturday's victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park by Candy Boy put the colt squarely in the middle of any Kentucky Derby talk less than three months before the race.
Trained by John Sadler, Candy Boy came from off the pace to win the 1 1/16- mile race by a half-length in the very good time of 1:41.83.
"Very good (ride by Gary Stevens)," Sadler said after the win. "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."
Stevens, who won last year's Preakness with Oxbow, has put Candy Boy at the top of his list of potential Kentucky Derby rides come May 3.
"He's the number one draft choice for me," the Hall of Fame jockey said. "That was quite a performance he just put on against some pretty nice 3-year-olds. We were quietly confident about him and we were in a good spot.
"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."
The fact that the race went off after betting closed on the second Kentucky Derby Future Wager of the year was good news for early backers of Candy Boy.
Owned by C R K Stable, the colt opened the Future Wager last Thursday at 50-1, but was bet down to just 32-1. No doubt, had wagering closed after the Lewis, Candy Boy would have been at far lower odds.
Sadler has the Santa Anita Derby on April 5 as the colt's final prep before the Run for the Roses.
"When you're looking around the United States, weather everywhere else is terrible, so right now, I'm staying right here," Sadler said on possible out of town trips. "They had to cancel at Oaklawn on Friday, so we're not looking to go anywhere but to stay right in our own backyard."
The 10 points Candy Boy garnered from Saturday's win puts him tied for seventh in the Kentucky Derby points system. Nine 3-year-olds currently have 10 points with the top 20 eligible to start the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.