Belmont Stakes Profile: Chocolate Candy
by Trevor Whenham - 05/27/2009
Last race: Chocolate Candy handled himself well in his debut on dirt, and got his owners fifth place money in the Kentucky Derby. He was squeezed out of the gate, and settled at the back of the field early. He showed real maturity as he picked off rivals while moving through traffic - first along the rail and then seven-wide down the stretch. The effort was impressive but just a bit too taxing - he ran out of gas in the final furlong and couldn't improve his position any further.
Career highlights: Chocolate Candy wasn't quite up to the level of the elite horses in California, but he showed time and again that he wasn't far off. After breaking his maiden in his fourth try last fall he went on to compete respectively with two of the top horses in the state - Pioneerof The Nile and I Want Revenge. He earned a graded stakes win in the El Camino Real Derby when the top horses didn't compete, and he was a clear second in the Santa Anita Derby.
Jockey: Garrett Gomez. Gomez, the nation's top jockey, is the latest in a log line of riders that have been in this saddle. Mike Smith rode him in the Derby, and a surprising number of top jockeys came before that - Russell Baze, Joel Rosario, Rafael Bejarano, Jose Valdivia Jr., and Michael Baze. Gomez rode the horse once before, winning the Real Quiet in November. Gomez is as good as it gets, though he somehow has failed to win a Triple Crown race yet.
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer is a big fish in a small pond. A very, very big fish. He won every single training title in Northern California between 1986 and 2008. He's one of only four trainers to have won 5,000 races in his career. His Triple Crown record isn't that impressive - he didn't have his first starter until 2000 when Globalize finished 10th in the Belmont. His best finishes on the trail have been a pair of fifths in the Derby.
Pedigree: Chocolate Candy is sired by Candy Ride. That horse won all six of his career races - three each in Argentina and California - before being retired. He won at the Derby distance of 10 furlongs, and he didn't seem to struggle doing it. Chocolate Candy's dam was sired by Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner. That horse not only won the Belmont convincingly, but has been very effective as a damsire for horses with serious stamina, including 1999 Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid.
Racing style: Though Chocolate Candy showed hints in the Derby that he can make a sustained move from far back, he typically likes to be closer to the lead. He's a stalker who will look to be within easy contact of the lead before making his move down the stretch. He's not an explosive runner like many in the field, but rather he favors a more sustained, longer lasting charge.
Belmont prognosis: I like this horse a lot. I liked him coming into the Derby, and nothing has changed. He's classy and honest. That being said, I don't believe he is at the top of this field. I expect a good race out of him, and I expect him to pick up his second Triple Crown payday, but I will leave him off the very top of my exotics.