Capt. Candyman Can, whose name was inspired by a 1970's hit song by Sammy Davis Jr., proved just as popular on the track as he grabbed the lead heading into the far turn under jockey Julien Leparoux and rolled to a three-length victory in Saturday's 28th running of the $111,100 Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes for 2-year-olds on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The favorite in a field of eight horses, Capt. Candyman Can covered the mile over a "fast" track in 1:35.15 and paid $4.80, $3 and 2.40. Monty's Best, who challenged the winner in the upper stretch, finished second under Robby Albarado and paid $5.80 and $3.60. Star of David finished third under Shaun Bridgmohan and paid $3.60.
A gelded son of Candy Ride owned by Joseph Rauch and David Zell of Florida, the Kentucky-bred Capt. Candyman Can won for the second time in three races and the winner's purse of $66,817 pushed his career earnings to $105,517. The winner is trained by Ian Wilkes, a former assistant to two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Carl Nafzger who scored his first stakes win as a trainer at Churchill Downs. The victory was one of four on the day for Leparoux, who has scored a meet-leading 15 victories in the first five days of the track's 26-day Fall Meet.
"I think he's going to get a little bit more fit with this race," said Leparoux, who won the 2007 renewal of the Iroquois aboard Court Vision. "He got a little tired at the end, so we'll see what happens and see if he if he can improve next time."
Wilkes said that Capt. Candyman Can would likely run next in Churchill Downs $150,000-added Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 29, with a long range goal of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 2 at the Louisville track.
"That's a nice race to win and that's a good two-turn race and then we can really see if he can go two turns," said Wilkes. "That's what I really want to find out. Do I have just a miler or a come-from-behind sprinter or do I really have a contender? That's what I want to find out the next time I run him."
Capt. Candyman Can settled into third between horses soon after the start of the Iroquois as Casey's on Call grabbed the early lead from his rail post and Monty's Best pressed from the outside. Casey's on Call started to weaken as he led the field into the far turn, and Leparoux moved Capt. Candyman Can to lead with just under a half-mile to run. Monty's Best challenged the leader in upper stretch, but could not draw even and Capt. Candyman Can pulled away in the final yards. Star of David rallied from third but could not threaten the top pair.
Gresham finished fourth, and was followed by Brave Victory, Casey's on Call, Just Like Biscuit and Chilliness.
POST-RACE QUOTES - THE IROQUOIS
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN (winner): "He relaxed today and was going pretty good. He didn't fight me and he finished a little bit. He got a little tired at the finish. I think he's going to get a little bit more fit with this race. He was not fit, fit, at least that's what [Ian Wilkes] told me. He got a little tired at the end, so we'll see what happens and she if he can improve next time. He broke his maiden very impressively so we've liked him since that day. He's good."
IAN WILKES, trainer of CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN (winner): "As long as he's fine, that was my goal to run in the two races here [the Iroquois and the Grade II, $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov. 29]. After this race, we only have to worry about one more race for the year and see where we go from there.
Q: Do you think he'll go two turns?
"I think he'll get two turns. I think he's bred to go it, yes."
Q: Can we put him on an early Kentucky Derby 135 watch list?
Q: Did you have him ready 100-percent fit or does he have more left?
"I think I've got something left. I didn't want to over-train him and I'd like to win the [Kentucky] Jockey Club. That's a nice race to win and that's a good two-turn race and then we can really see if he can go two turns. That's what I really want to find out. Do I have just a miler or a come-from-behind sprinter or do I really have a contender? That's what I want to find out the next time I run him.
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on MONTY'S BEST (runner-up)
"He settled nice leaving there, then that one-horse (Casey's on Call) dropped off that speed horse (Capt. Candyman Can), and I had to be the victim to go press on Julien and I just got outfooted to the wire. But he's still learning and he's a nice colt."
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey on STAR OF DAVID (third)
"He was sitting in there really comfortable. I thought I had a lot of horse. I can't take anything away from the winner - he ran a really good race. He battled all the way and had a lot left to win the race. But my horse ran a very credible race."