Dalmore takes down ‘Candy in Affirmed

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

July 3rd, 2016

Saturday’s $100,000 Affirmed (G3) at Santa Anita looked like just the place to get Danzing Candy back on track for the second half of the 3-year-old season.

Transferred to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert after his Kentucky Derby (G1) debacle, Danzing Candy was reverting to the same 1 1/16-mile trip as his San Felipe (G2) victory. The 1-5 favorite had an obvious class edge on paper, but Dalmore didn’t the read script and beat him by a half-length.

Indeed, Dalmore turned the presumed storyline upside down. Instead of Danzing Candy advertising the depth of the Baffert bench, Dalmore underscored that the Desormeaux brothers have more to their arsenal than Exaggerator and Swipe.

Trained by Keith and piloted by Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux, Dalmore was reserved a couple of lengths off the quick pace. It wasn’t Danzing Candy winging it, but Beaumarchais, the longest shot on the board at 30-1. Although right alongside, Danzing Candy was traveling comfortably through splits of :23.26 and :46.00.

Dalmore was striding even better as he closed the gap on the far turn and ranged up to the leaders. That move prompted Rafael Bejarano to turn Danzing Candy loose, and after heading Beaumarchais through six furlongs in 1:10.02, he tried to spurt away.

But Dalmore had him covered and soon collared him. To his credit, Danzing Candy never stopped trying on the rail. Kent Desormeaux gave off a confident vibe aboard Dalmore, who was always doing enough to prevail a bit cozily. The 7-2 second choice clocked a swift 1:40.84 and returned $9.20.

The rest were outclassed and strung out. There was an 8 1/2-length gap back to Prince of Arabia in third, followed by Beaumarchais and the ever-trailing Curlin Rules. The latter added blinkers, but the equipment change didn’t have the desired effect as he virtually sleepwalked through the race.

Dalmore, co-owned by his trainer in partnership with Big Chief Racing and Rocker O Ranch, has taken quite a while to get his act together. The son of Colonel John needed seven attempts before finally breaking his maiden. Dalmore shipped across country for the Wood Memorial (G1), only to wind up a long-way last in the slop. His next stakes try was better – a fifth in the April 30 California Chrome at Los Alamitos. His sights were lowered to an entry-level allowance at this track and trip May 29, and he responded with a stalk-and-pounce decision. The Affirmed represented a bigger step forward, upping his line to 11-3-3-0, $187,302.

By making the Affirmed his breakthrough, Dalmore was emulating his paternal grandsire, Tiznow, who scored his first stakes win in the 2000 Affirmed at old Hollywood Park.


Quotes from Santa Anita

Winning trainer Keith Desormeaux on Dalmore: “I thought he merited a chance today and he proved me right.

“It’s been a nice three-race series here with this horse. Each race (that he’s won), he’s had a perfect trip. I think that’s attributed not only to (jockey) Kent’s prowess but also the fact that he’s had small fields and it’s always ended up a decent pace. Although, in the two previous races the pace was slower and today was quick, so good job by Kent judging the pace today.

“Knowing (Bob) Baffert like I do, he’s always going to be on the lead. The surprise was Beaumarchais. It looks like I may have paid Simon Callaghan on the side to make sure the pace was legitimate. It was nice to see 46 flat. That had to help us.

“It’s obvious (that Dalmore enjoys racing at home). All three of his wins, all at Santa Anita. We’re a half-mile from his stall and I think that makes a significant difference. I just have to keep in mind that if we go out of town to get him there earlier, maybe two weeks before.

“He got into a dog fight with Danzing Candy. It’s not like he drew away. Danzing Candy ran a helluva race.”

Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux on Dalmore: “He drifts a little bit down the straight. I was checking my rearview mirror. He took me down towards the rail, but he was driving at that point. The most impressive part was that half-mile move to the quarter pole. That was all him, I never asked him. I hadn’t even used my horse yet and Rafael (Bejarano on Danzing Candy) was driving. To me, I knew we had (Danzing Candy). It was a very explosive effort by Dalmore.”

Jockey Rafael Bejarano on runner-up Danzing Candy: “He didn’t mind sitting in behind the speed, he just relaxed. When Dalmore came up our outside, that’s when I moved. I tried to get the jump on him. He relaxed well though.”

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Danzing Candy: “Well, he was rating pretty good, but Beaumarchais was just going so fast. When I saw that second quarter in 46, I thought ‘Oh man.’ Dalmore is a good horse.” 

Photo courtesy of Benoit