Son of Twirling Candy Provides Hronis, Sadler With Another 'Gift'

8th at SA , Gr. Stk, $300,000GII San Antonio S. (1 1/8m)Winner: Gift Box, h, 5 by Twirling Candy

Gift Box | Benoit Photo

Battle of Midway and Dabster looked set to renew the rivalry that had them separated by just a neck in the Nov. 25 GIII Native Diver S., but it was newcomer Gift Box who stole the show in the GII San Antonio S. at Santa Anita Wednesday. The gray, making his first start for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler off a nine-month layoff, broke alertly but settled off the pace just behind the two favorites who were shadowing pacesetting longshot Pitino (Union Rags). Battle of Midway and Dabster moved in tandem to overtake the pacesetter leaving the backstretch and Gift Box followed in their wake, ranging up three wide to challenge for the lead entering the home stretch. Gift Box forged to the lead at midstretch despite drifting out and strode home a half-length winner.

“Hopefully this horse will be in the handicap division this year and we're not opposed to going to Dubai with him,” said winning trainer John Sadler, who also trained the colt's sire, 2010 GI Malibu S. victor Twirling Candy (Candy Ride {Arg}).

“He's close to my heart,” Sadler continued. “He's from the first crop of Twirling Candy, so I've been watching him for a couple of years. He's trained really well for this race and he's had a bunch of bullets. He ran like he trained.”

Winning owner Kosta Hronis admitted he was optimistic about Gift Box's first West Coast start.

“I was expecting big things today because John told me he had a 'gift box' for me, for Christmas,” Hronis said. “John was pointing for this all along, so this was always the target. John knew what he had and he was really happy when he got him. He's been working well and he loves it here. Sadler is doing his magic again.”

Gift Box, purchased by W.S. Farish for $135,000 as a weanling at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale, was third behind Mohaymen (Tapit) in the 2015 GII Remsen S. and was second in the 2016 Curlin S. before finishing fourth behind Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) in the GI Travers S. Second in four straight New York optional-claimers last fall and winter, he was an 8 3/4-length winner at Aqueduct Mar. 24 in his final outing for Farish and trainer Chad Brown. He was entered and withdrawn from the Keeneland November sale before resurfacing on the West Coast.

“I was following him before the sale happened,” Sadler said. “He went back to the farm and the previous owners indicated that they'd like to move him along, so I went back there before the September yearling sale and took a look at him, and liked him. I know he can run, he's had some good speed figures. We took a shot and here we are.”

Pedigree Notes:

Special Me has proved more than special for Machmer Hall, which purchased the mare for $6,000 as a 3-year-old at the 2009 Keeneland January sale. The mare's second foal is multiple graded stakes winner Stonetastic (Mizzen Mast). Her weanling filly by Medaglia d'Oro sold to Larry Best's OXO Equine for $500,000 at last month's Fasig-Tipton November sale. The mare's yearling filly by Honor Code sold to Tracy Farmer for $260,000 at this year's Keeneland September sale. At last year's September sale, her Speightstown filly sold to Shadwell for $550,000. Special Me, a half-sister to G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen S. winner Our New Recruit (Alphabet Soup), was bred to Into Mischief this year.

Gift Box is the fifth graded stakes winner for Twirling Candy, who has also been represented by 2018 Grade I winner Finley'sluckycharm. Hronis Racing has already enjoyed success with a daughter of the Lane's End stallion, having raced multiple stakes winner Uptown Twirl, a half-sister to champion Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile), before selling the filly for $1.075 million at the 2016 Keeneland November sale.

Wednesday, Santa Anita
SAN ANTONIO S.-GII, $301,380, Santa Anita, 12-26, 3yo/up,
1 1/16m, 1:43.88, ft.
1–GIFT BOX, 122, h, 5, by Twirling Candy
                1st Dam: Special Me, by Unbridled's Song
                2nd Dam: Delta Danielle, by Lord Avie
                3rd Dam: Domasco Danielle, by Same Direction
   WIN. ($135,000 Wlg '13 FTKNOV). O-Hronis Racing LLC;
B-Machmer Hall, Carrie & Craig Brogden (KY); T-John W.
Sadler; J-Joel Rosario. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 14-4-5-2,
$524,160. *1/2 to Stonetastic (Mizzen Mast), MGSW & GISP,
$856.062. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for
   eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Battle of Midway, 124, c, 4, Smart Strike–Rigoletta, by
Concerto. 'TDN Rising Star' ($410,000 Ylg '15 FTSAUG). O-Don
Alberto Stable & WinStar Farm LLC; B-Thor-Bred Stables, LLC
(KY); T-Jerry Hollendorfer. $60,000.
3–Dabster, 122, c, 4, Curlin–On a Roll, by A.P. Indy. ($430,000
Ylg '15 KEESEP; $1,000,000 2yo '16 FTFMAR). O-Sheikh
Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum; B-G. Watts Humphrey Jr.,
Susan Keller, Victoria Oliver & G. Watts Humphrey III (KY);
T-Bob Baffert. $36,000.
Margins: HF, 3/4, 3HF. Odds: 6.50, 1.50, 1.90.
Also Ran: Beach View, Sonneteer, Air Strike, Yulong Warrior, Tatters to Riches, Pitino. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.



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