By Julie Sarno
Thoroughbred racehorse owners share one common ambition — to win the Kentucky Derby. Local resident Jenny Craig — yes, the one of diet fame — is no different. This year, her runner Sidney's Candy has been doing everything right.
"Sidney's Candy has shown a lot," said trainer John Sadler, speaking by telephone from his barn at Santa Anita. "In his second start, he set a track record at Del Mar for 5 1/2 furlongs. He's very fast. He's a nice horse around the barn; he's not excitable." A furlong is one-eighth mile.
Sidney's Candy is preparing now for the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, a major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 1. The front-running colt won the San Vicente and then the San Felipe this year, both at Santa Anita.
A flashy chestnut (reddish) color, Sidney's Candy has raced just five times. His regular jockey is Joseph Talamo. He ran his first two career races at Del Mar last summer, finishing second by a head on July 25. He returned with a victory on Aug. 22, winning by four lengths in 1:02.71 and setting the track record Sadler referenced.
Sidney's Candy is named for Craig's late husband, Sid Craig, who died in July 2008. Winning the Kentucky Derby was a goal the couple shared, and now Jenny Craig is carrying on with a colt named for her late husband.
"While I am really looking forward to the Kentucky Derby, should we get lucky it will be a bittersweet victory, since Sid will not be there to see his lifelong dream fulfilled," Craig said.
When Sid Craig turned 60 in 1992, Jenny Craig bought him a 3-year-old Kentucky Derby hopeful for his birthday: a reputed $2.5 million purchase named Dr. Devious. The runner disappointed in the Kentucky Derby, but then the Craigs shipped him to England, where he won the Epsom Derby (pronounced Darby across the pond).
Other Craig-owned Derby runners over the years have included Tossofthecoin and last year's Chocolate Candy, who came the closest yet, finishing fifth at Churchill Downs last spring.
"Sidney's Candy is a pure Craig homebred, by their stallion, out of their mare," said Sadler, who won Del Mar's training title in 2008 and 2009.
Sidney's Candy is a son of Candy Ride, the horse that carried the Craig silks to victory in the 2003 $1 million, Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Lookin At Lucky enters race
Lookin At Lucky, owned by part-time Del Mar resident Mike Pegram, will also compete in the Santa Anita Derby, trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Monday.
Lookin At Lucky will face other likely betting choices Sidney's Candy and Caracortado in the Grade I race. Baffert wasn't certain until Monday if Lookin At Lucky would stay close to home or compete in the Arkansas Derby one week later at Oaklawn Park.
"Ideally, I would run in the Arkansas Derby, but I want the extra week," Baffert told ESPN about the time between the horse's final prep and the May 1 Kentucky Derby.
"Looking at the really big picture — the Kentucky Derby — there are more positives than negatives" to staying home, Baffert told ESPN.
Lookin At Lucky last competed in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 13 and won. Garrett Gomez will be the jockey.