News & Barn notes

Grade 1 Winner Candied Draws Off To Win By 4 1/2 Lengths In Saturday’s Lady’s Secret Stakes

June 08, 2024

Considerable class relief, a short field and a target to run at. It all added up to a 4½-length victory for Grade 1 winner Candied in Saturday’s $100,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Joe Bravo, Candied shook off a pesky Saddle Up Jessie in the final furlong and drew off the way an odds-on favorite coming out of three straight Grade 1 races should.

The winning time for the mile and a sixteenth was 1:45.46.

After breaking alertly and briefly on the lead at the outset, Bravo settled the Kentucky-bred 3-year-old daughter of Candy Ride into last in a field shortened to four horses following three scratches.

Down the backside Bravo edged Candied off the rail for clear run, giving her the cue to go entering the final turn. She still had Saddle Up Jessie to deal with then, but Candied and Bravo had the moment.

Multiple Grade 3 winner Honor D Lady rallied for second, a half-length ahead of Saddle Up Jessie.

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Candied posted her third win in five career starts, with Pletcher saying this week he would point her to the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on July 20.

“When you ride for Todd Pletcher you know they’re ready when they come here and that they have class,” said Bravo. “Todd called me this morning and said `don’t play with her. If she fights you let her go.’ She showed us she was the best horse today. Let’s see what the future brings for her.”

Facing older horses for the first time proved to be no problem for Candied, who won the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last year and then was third in the Breeders’ Cup Fillies.

“I mean even if they all didn’t scratch I still think it would be a good spot that Todd picked out,” said Anthony Sciametta, who handles the Pletcher division at Monmouth Park. “Yes, it was a really good spot. That’s probably why he supplemented into it late.

“She’s a good filly, really good filly.”

Candied paid $3.40 to win as the odds-on favorite.

“Really excited to sit on the filly,” said Bravo. “She has run against some of the best fillies in the country.

“I’m going to tell you the truth, I thought I would be further back. If you had to ride the race on paper she’s going to sit back, way back and make a big run. She broke in front, that’s why it’s horse racing. You just have to let the horse kind of dictate and stay out of their way.”

Candied was making her first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 5 and her second start of the year.