Tyler Gaffalione pilots Candidate to a front-running romp in the Dania Beach
Mark Grier’s Candidate remained undefeated on turf with a comfortable 1 ¾-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park, where the Arnaud Delacour-trained colt was never seriously challenged in the mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.
The Dania Beach co-headlined Saturday’s 11-race card at Gulfstream with the $100,000 Ginger Brew, a mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Candidate, who had previously broken his maiden in his second lifetime start in his turf debut at Laurel Park before rolling to an optional claiming allowance triumph at Tampa Bay Downs, broke alertly from the starting gate and was in cruise control on the front end under Tyler Gaffalione before kicking clear in the stretch.
“Everything went to plan. He broke alertly, put himself in a good spot and relaxed nicely on the front end,” said Gaffalione, who notched career win number 1,994 aboard the son of Exaggerator. “Going into the second turn I just asked him to pick it up and he just kept finding. It was a really good performance today.”
Candidate ($17.20) set fractions of :23.41 and :47.89 for the first half mile before completing the mile in a solid 1:34.71. Major Dude finished second two lengths ahead of Worthington, both of whom were the closest pursuers throughout the race.
“It pretty much set up the way it would set up. The horse has a lot of natural speed. He broke well and made the lead and Tyler put him in a nice rhythm,” Delacour said.
Candidate debuted with a seventh-place finish in a 1 1/8-mile off-the-turf maiden special weight race over a sloppy main track at Laurel before scoring three straight races on turf by a combined 8 ½ lengths.
“We bought him (from consignor Randy Miles for $150,000) at the (2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic) sale at Timonium. We were not quite sure if we were going to go turf or dirt,” Delacour said. “After his workouts, it was pretty obvious he was working better on the Tapeta at Fair Hill, so it made a lot of sense to try him on the turf.”
Delacour isn’t likely to give in to the temptation of putting the abundantly talented 3-year-old back on dirt.
“We’ve had some pretty good work at Tampa, and he doesn’t give me the feeling,” Delacour said. “His knees are a little higher on the dirt than on the turf.”
Candidate is a Kentucky-bred out off the Pure Prize mare Navy Ribbon. He was bred by Rose Hill Farm and Thoroughbred Acadiana