Sidney's Candy displayed turf prowess last year when recording a 5 1/2-length score in the Grade 2 La Jolla and a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Mile, beaten only three lengths by the incomparable Goldikova (Ire), but the John Sadler-trained colt hasn't been seen on the green since early November. The speedy four-year-old will finally return to the turf in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 American Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Trained by John Sadler, Sidney's Candy is the 123-pound high weight among eight rivals in the one-mile affair with jockey Joel Rosario.
The chestnut colt was entered in the grassy Grade 3 Sir Beaufort on Santa Anita's opening day program in late December, but the one-mile event was transferred to the main track and Sidney's Candy wound up romping by 7 1/4 lengths over a small group of overmatched opponents. However, he was sidelined for more than four months afterward, finally reappearing in the May 7 Mervyn LeRoy (Grade 2) on Hollywood's Cushion Track, and could not withstand the late rally of Crown of Thorns in his comeback, checking in second as the 2-5 favorite. It may serve as a good tightener for the American.
Sidney's Candy figures to break running from post 7 in his turf return and it will be interesting to see whether the early pace is hot. Ryehill Dreamer (Ire) and Liberian Freighter both have speed to his inside in the starting gate, but neither rival appears quick enough to out-sprint the probable favorite -- they'll have to apply pressure to Sidney's Candy while chasing him.
The American could set up nicely for multiple Grade 1 victor The Usual Q.T., who figures to be running late beneath Victor Espinoza. An earner of more than $1.4 million, the five-year-old gelding has placed in his last five starts, but the Jim Cassidy charge will be attempting to snap a six-race losing skid that dates back to his victory in the Grade 1 Eddie Read last July. The Usual Q.T. has posted big BRIS Late Pace ratings (108 and 107) in his last two attempts behind moderate early fractions and owns a stellar 7-5-1-1 mark at the distance.
Liberian Freighter will enter on the upswing for Neil Drysdale, recording front-running victories in the Grade 3 Inglewood and Arcadia (Grade 2) in his last two starts, and the California-bred stakes ranks veteran also captured the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile at Hollywood last fall. He's posted an admirable five-for-nine ledger over the course, but the six-year-old gelding will face a different pace scenario on Saturday from his recent starts. Look for him to revert to rating tactics under Martin Garcia.
French Group 3 winner Goldwaki (Ger) will make his U.S. debut in the American and could be dangerous off the layoff for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally. Last seen finishing fourth in the Prix Chaudenay on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe undercard, the four-year-old colt also posted a respectable fourth behind Behkabad (Fr) in the Grand Prix de Paris last summer. Brice Blanc picks up the mount.
Ryehill Dreamer, Leroy's Dynameaux, Norvsky and Smokey Lonesome all rate as outsiders and complete the field.