Justify's Valentine Candy Dominates Oaklawn's Advent

Valentine Candy | Coady

Valentine Candy (Justify) put a sweet punctuation to his year with a dominant display in the Advent S. on Oaklawn's opening day.

Victorious against a well-met field of Saratoga maidens in July, the chestnut tired badly in the GI Hopeful S. after a round of bumper cars soon after the break took him off the pace. He resurfaced at Keeneland in October with two starts–a second against first-level optional claimers on the seventh and then running third Oct. 28 in the Bowman Mill S.

Sent away at 9-5 in good order and able to be part of the pace pressure on the frontrunner, he swung into the backstretch four wide and was three off the rail heading for the homeward stretch. Given his cue with Roman Vazquez sitting pretty, Valentine Candy shut down all challenges right there, kicking home 6 3/4 lengths best over 67-1 shocker Willy D's (Lookin At Lucky) and late-running Andy's Candy (Practical Joke). It was Steve Asmussen's record-extending 105th career Oaklawn stakes victory.


“I'm just very, if anything, relieved to see him run back to his first race,” Steve Asmussen said. “The field that he beat at Saratoga first time out–showed great quality that day. Beautiful horse; great opportunity. That's who he's supposed to be.”

Added Ramon Vazquez: “Steve didn't give me any instructions. [Valentine Candy]'s a nice horse. I just had to guide him.”

The most recent to the races for Taste Like Candy, who went runner-up in the GI Hollywood Starlet S. in her season on the track, Valentine Candy has only one other sibling of racing age. The unplaced King Happy (Street Sense) was sent to Ireland in 2018 as a yearling and the broodmare had a run of poor breeding fortunes since then until she produced the winner and recently a 2023 colt by Mitole. She was bred to Liam's Map for 2024. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

ADVENT S., $150,000, Oaklawn, 12-8, 2yo, 5 1/2f, 1:04.65, ft.
1–VALENTINE CANDY, 117, c, 2, by Justify
         1st Dam: Taste Like Candy (GISP, $286,205), by Candy Ride (Arg)
         2nd Dam: My Success, by A.P. Indy
         3rd Dam: Towering Success, by Irish Tower
($250,000 Ylg '22 FTKOCT). 1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN. O-L. William & Corinne Heiligbrodt, Jackpot Farm, Whispering Oaks Farm LLC & Coteau Grove Farms LLC; B-Pine Creek LP (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen; J-Ramon A. Vazquez. $96,038. Lifetime Record: 5-2-1-1, $195,713.
2–Willy D's, 117, c, 2, Lookin At Lucky–Boston Mine, by Mineshaft. ($60,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR). 1ST BLACK TYPE. O-Danny Brown, Charis Brenneman & Greg Compton; B-Beau Lane (KY); T-Greg Compton. $29,550.
3–Andy's Candy, 117, g, 2, Practical Joke–In Gold Blood, by My Golden Song. ($28,000 Ylg '22 TTAYRL; $84,000 2yo '23 TTAAPR). 1ST BLACK TYPE. O-JD Thoroughbreds, LLC, Joey Keith Davis & Larry J. Romero; B-Samuel Sherman (KY); T-Chris A. Hartman. $14,775.
Margins: 6 3/4, HD, 1. Odds: 1.80, 67.30, 10.10.
Also Ran: Market Street, Molly's Town, General Shipman, Frost Free, Ceepeegee, Bye Bye Liam, Drewmania, Sweet Soddy J. Scratched: Spirit's Mischief.

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