By Bill Finley
'TDN Rising Star' Danzing Candy (Twirling Candy) chances of running in the GI Kentucky Derby are “85 percent,” according to trainer Cliff Sise Jr.
“The owners [Halo Farms and Jim and Dianne Bashor] want to run,” Sise said.
That's not good news for several horses who are being pointed for the Derby but may not have enough points to get in. With 60 points, Danzing Candy is assured a spot in the field, not the case for four horses currently tied for eighteenth place on the points leader board. They are Mo Tom (Uncle Mo), Fellowship (Awesome of Course), Adventist (Any Given Saturday) and Laoban (Uncle Mo). If 32 points is not enough for all four to get in the tie-breaker is money earned in non-restricted stakes races.
Mo Tom tops that list, followed by, in order, Fellowship, Adventist and Laoban.
With 170 points up for grabs in Saturday's GI Arkansas Derby, there could be a handful of horses that vault over the horses tied at 32 in the standings.
The Derby is restricted to 20 horses. In each of the last two years it took only 20 points to get into the race.
In addition to the horses with 32 points, a number of quality horses may get shut out. Most notable on that list is 'TDN Rising Star' Cherry Wine (Paddy O'Prado), the third-place finisher in the GI Blue Grass. He has just 25 points.
Sise and his owners were on the fence about the Derby after the colt finished fourth in the GI Santa Anita Derby. Danzing Candy set a fast pace that day, going in 22, 45 1/5 and 1:10, but Sise doesn't think that is why he ran below expectations.
“[Jockey] Mike [Smith] said he didn't like the slop,” Sise said. “If Mike is telling the truth, he just didn't like the track. Obviously, I'd feel much better about things if he ran better in the Santa Anita Derby. You never want to go into the Kentucky Derby off a race like that.”
Sise said he has yet to get a Derby commitment from Smith.