A good all-around racehorse, Twirling Candy accomplished a lot during his career. The fact that he never raced outside of California did not matter. In his eleven career starts, he showed an aptitude for different surfaces, could handle various distances, and emerged as a multiple graded stakes champion for trainer John Sadler and owners Craig Family Trust (who were later joined by William S. Farish and Martin J. Wygod.
Winning on debut at Hollywood Park, that race in November 2009 represented his lone start as a juvenile. Not seen again until the following spring, Twirling Candy wasted no time building on that result. He took care of allowance optional claiming company before establishing himself as one of the top horses at the 2010 Del Mar meet. In two starts, both on turf, Twirling Candy swept the Oceanside Stakes and Grade II Del Mar Derby. Even this early on, Twirling Candy could be seen as a truly nuanced Thoroughbred. His first two starts on the Hollywood Park synthetic were sprints, and the two turf engagements at Del Mar were on the grass. Moreover, Twirling Candy had won tracking the pace before leading the field all the way in the Del Mar Derby. And he had quite a stride in the stretch of the Oceanside.
The only blemish on Twirling Candy's 2010 season was a fourth in the Grade I Goodwood Stakes, but he bounced back in the Grade I Malibu on opening day of Santa Anita's winter/spring meet. Initally tracking the leader through fast fractions, Twirling Candy came through in a thrilling finish to the traditional feature race, winning his only Grade I while setting a track record of 1:19.70. Not only did he eclipse Spectacular Bid's record that stood for thirty years, Twirling Candy became the first horse to run seven furlongs at Santa Anita in under one minute and twenty seconds. That made his Malibu performance truly historic.
Moving into the older horse ranks at four, Twirling Candy captured another prestigious event in the Grade II Strub at a mile and one-eighth. That was a prep for the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap, which gave Twirling Candy a chance to join his sire, Candy Ride, as a winner at ten furlongs. The day did not go as planned, though. Twirling Candy was involved in some bumping with eventual winner Game On Dude before finishing fifth. The result was highly controversial, with many feeling Game On Dude should have been disqualified for the incident at the top of the stretch. However, there was no change to the results, and Twirling Candy, though not disqualified, was cited as having started the bumping in what was another controversial aspect to the race.
But Twirling Candy did not have to wait long for another visit to the winner's circle. Getting a freshening, he returned to Hollywood Park a couple of weeks before spring made way for summer, winning the Grade II Californian Stakes. The race was eventful for trainer John Sadler's horse, for he would not settle down for a few moments in the backstretch. This was not new, for Twirling Candy had done this before on a race day. But regular rider Joel Rosario, who piloted the dark bay, got him under control before they came from the rear of a compact field to win. That set the duo up for a run in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup. Twirling Candy tracked the pacesetter and fought gamely in the stretch before being part of a three-way photo at the wire. It was a good performance on his part, and it went much better than the Big 'Cap, but he would have to settle for third that summer afternoon behind winner First Dude and runner up Game On Dude.
Twirling Candy received a third chance to win at a mile and one-quarter, and it was the very race his sire won eight years earlier. Back at Del Mar, Twirling Candy made his main track debut in the Grade I Pacific Classic Stakes. As always, he showed his tenaciousness, fighting with Acclamation in the stretch and all the way to the wire. But just like the Hollywood Gold Cup, the photo did not go his way again. Still, that second place finish emphasized the colt's talent and his class.
Twirling Candy was retired several weeks after the Pacific Classic due to a slight strain. He completed his record with seven wins, a second and a third in eleven starts. A sire for several years, he stands at Lane's End, and has fathered successful horses like multiple graded stakes winners Collusion Illusion, Danzing Candy, Finley'sluckycharm, Gift Box, and Law Abidin Citizen.
Anyone who followed Twirling Candy's career saw a horse of unique talent. Whether it was the turf or the main track, whether it was Del Mar, Hollywood Park or Santa Anita, and whether it was a sprint or route, Twirling Candy more often than not got the job done.
slight strain: Bloodhorse Staff. "Twirling Candy Retired Because of Injury." Bloodhorse.com October 22, 2011. https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/133593/twirling-candy-retired-because-of-injury