Monday, August 29, 2011

Hard Rock Candy finally tastes sweet victory

For eight consecutive starts, Hard Rock Candy had been a hard luck racehorse.

Eight times the filly from my 2010 sales-tip list went to post. Five times, including her first four straight, she came home in second place, and once she missed second by a neck.

  • June 19, 2010, Calder Race Course, by a length to Greatest Dream, who since has made five stakes starts with a best finish of fourth in the Tropical Park Oaks.
  • Aug. 1, 2010, Philadelphia Park, by a half-length to future allowance winner Parvenu.
  • Aug. 29, 2010, Monmouth Park, by 7 1/4 lengths to After Later, who would contest the G1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont in her next out.
  • Sept. 18, 2010, Philadelphia Park, by 3 1/2 to Floating Dream.
  • May 31, 2011, Parx Racing, third by 4 to fellow Fugue sales-selection Circumstance, a neck out of second behind race-favorite Deflate the Bubble.
  • Aug. 1, 2011, Parx Racing, by 1 1/4 to another of my sales selections, Shipwreck Cove.
On Monday, it finally was Hard Rock Candy's turn.

Sent off as the prohibitive favorite among a field of $40K-$35K maiden-claimers at Parx, Hard Rock Candy and Kendrick Carmouche stalked the early leaders through opening fractions of 22.57 and 45.57, then surged in the stretch to gradually draw clear and win the race by a length and a quarter over Lyle's Angel. Final time for 6.5 furlongs over a fast strip was a brisk 1:16.18.

Hard Rock Candy was bred in Florida by Brent Fernung and Crystal Fernung. She is owned by Barbara Armstrong and Gavin-Ty Racing LLC, and trained by Richard Vega.

I tabbed the chestnut daughter of Wildcat Heir-D. D. Rocks, by Tactical Advantage, among my top prospects prior to her failing to sell at a high bid of just $32,000 as Hip 940 at last year's Ocala April sale of 2-year-olds in training. Though it has taken her awhile to break maiden, the clocking of her win on Monday suggests the filly has the ability to move forward from this victory.

A similar move forward has been made by sales-tip Admitit ($20,000 OBSAPR Hip 1046), who took 10 tries to break maiden at Woodbine, with five places and three shows in her first nine starts, but now has won three straight and earned $121,750 from 12 lifetime starts.

Neither of those two quite hold the record for seconditis among the sales-tips. That honor goes to Mugsy Dehere ($40,000 EASMAY Hip 323) who is 7-for-9 finishing second in maiden special weight company at Charles Town. He's earned $35,880 without winning, but hasn't run since May 14 nor worked in the last 60 days, so I'm left crossing my fingers he'll make a comeback.

Others who keep knocking on a door that's yet to open include:

  • Rockin Harbor ($35K RNA, KEEAPR Hip 36), 0-3-1 from seven starts for $18,000, back on the work tab at Santa Anita.
  • Elusive Land ($25K RNA, ADSSPR Hip 11), 0-3-0 from three maiden special weight starts at Woodbine for $34,881.
  • Heir to Dare ($62K RNA, OBSAPR Hip 934), 0-3-0 from three starts in Florida, $26,241.
  • Surprise Strike ($34K RNA, EASMAY Hip 380), 0-3-0 from six starts at Presque Isle, Woodbine and Saratoga, $29,749.
  • After Words ($30K RNA, EASMAY Hip 281), 0-2-1 from four starts in the Mid-Atlantic, $15,110, in Tuesday at Parx.
Including Mugsy Dehere, that's 21 seconds from 32 starts for those six.

Regardless, Hard Rock Candy becomes the 103rd maiden-breaker among the 187 prospects I selected from various 2-year-old sales last year. That's 55 percent of all selections and 66.5 percent of the 155 to have made at least one start.

Click here to see the statistics on all 187 selections, plus nine horses whose high prices I criticized.

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