Clifford Sise hasn’t experienced rabid success like some other Calfornian trainers have in one of the country’s most competitive racing circuits. He has however played a big role in developing some excellent horses, with Prospect Park once being considered a promising Derby horse-turned-turf aficionado and now Danzing Candy, who looks to add some pace to this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Career Highlights

  • G2 winner in the San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles


  • Sire: Twirling Candy (Candy Ride [ARG])
  • Dam: Talkin and Singing (Songandaprayer)
  • Trainer: Clifford Sise Jr. (Idiot Proof, Prospect Park, Paying Dues)
  • Jockey: Mike Smith
  • Owned by: Halo Farms; Jim & Dianna Bashor
  • Record: 5:3-0-0
  • Earnings: $358,650
  • Best speed figures: 100 Beyer, 104 BRIS Figure, 110 Equibase

The Details

Background: In an edition of the Derby that lacks very much early speed, Danzing Candy’s winning style has been forwardly-placed. As the most successful runner from the first crop of Twirling Candy– a stallion who made some noise as a racehorse in California– he defeated the previously-unbeaten Smokey Image as well as Mor Spirit in the San Felipe Stakes (II) before bowing out late in the muddy Santa Anita Derby (I). Trainer Sise played a wait-and-see game with his star colt, ultimately deciding to ship to Kentucky after a sharper-than-usual work at the San Luis Rey Training Center.

Prep Schedule: With just five career starts, Danzing Candy is on the lighter end of foundation, but boosts his appeal with a race record of 5:3-0-0, with all of his wins coming on Santa Anita’s main track.

Danzing Candy did not make his career debut until late November at Del Mar, breaking poorly in a 6 1/2 furlong race to finish behind Uncle Lino by some 6 3/4 lengths. Shipping south to Santa Anita, he finished his two-year-old year a winner, taking a 7 furlong maiden special weight impressive on the front end, winning by 3 lengths.

For his three-year-old debut, he coasted home in a 1-mile allowance test in February before capturing the San Felipe Stakes (II) over graded stakes winners Mor Spirit and Exaggerator five weeks later. The track turned up muddy for the Santa Anita Derby (I), which may have proved too testing for him as he led a frenetic pace out front until the stretch, ultimately finishing fourth behind Exaggerator some 13 lengths.

Pedigree: From the first crop of multiple G1 winner Twirling Candy, Danzing Candy has appealing speed and distance influences in his family tree. He is line-bred to Fappiano and Northern Dancer.

Twirling Candy was a force to be reckoned with from sprint distances to routes, winning the Malibu Stakes (I) and placing in the 10-furlong Pacific Classic (I) during his rich and consistent race career. His sire Candy Ride [ARG] has thrown multiple graded stakes winners from juvenile champion male Shared Belief to G1 turf miler Sidney’s Candy. Twirling Candy’s full brother Dubai Sky won the Spiral Stakes (III) and his half brother Ethnic Dance won the Del Mar Derby (II). His dam, House of Danzing (Chester House), is a half sister to G3 winner/Santa Anita Derby (I) runner-up Chocolate Candy.

Dam Talkin and Singing is a daughter of G1 winner Songandaprayer (Unbridled’s Song), who has had modest success with progeny like UAE Derby runner-up Jack Junior and multiple stakes winner Say a Novena. Her dam Bendita (Baldski) was stakes-placed and most prominently, also produced Breeders’ Cup Turf (I) champion Better Talk Now.

Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++ Variant 15.62

Dosage Index: 3.80

Running Style: Pace

Pros: Danzing Candy is almost certain to be the early pace horse considering that has been his known winning style and there’s not too many horses here willing to set the pace. He’s beaten quality horses out on the lead before, and if he can be rated appropriately, he could eke out a win on the front end.

Cons: He ran out of steam in the Santa Anita Derby, running a little too fast for the 9-furlong distance which set things up well for Exaggerator. While it could have been the mud and the pace talking, a cloud of doubt hovers over him.

Final Word: I have had Danzing Candy at the top of my list for several months, although his showing in the Santa Anita Derby partly inspired me to take a look at some other horses. Much about him is still unknown, including his true distance ability and if he can handle shipping outside of California. He also did not show up in the mud at Santa Anita Park… is that a toss when you look at his San Felipe, or are the excuses in there valid points? Honestly, I still love him and I think he is one of those contenders who hasn’t gotten a real shot to shine. If he doesn’t show up on Derby Day– or better yet, if Mike Smith pulls another Bodemeister or Palace Malice– I’d like to think he’d be a great one-turn or even an outstanding turf horse.