The Brian Brown trainee looks to keep his streak alive in the Ohio Sires Stake leg.
by Jay Wolf
As the stakes action and temperatures in Ohio are starting to heat up, the Brian Brown trainee Rock Candy looks to stay just as hot having been a model of consistency winning all six starts this season and finishing first or second in all 15 lifetime starts.
“That is a good word for him, ‘consistency.’ He has never given us a bad race,” said Brown. “When he does get beat it usually is a post position thing or being in the wrong spot at the wrong time and he gets in trouble.”
The Pet Rock–Cotton Candy gelding pacer was purchased at the 2017 Ohio Select Sale by longtime Brown clients Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco and Richard Lombardo.
Rock Candy made nine starts as a freshman, winning three and finishing second in the remaining six events. With a 2-year-old bankroll of $204,576, his owners quickly recovered their $60,000 purchase price.
Rock Candy started to show his potential in the Ohio Sires Stake (OHSS) Final on Sept. 8 at Scioto Downs, overcoming a tough trip and a sloppy track to finish second by a length to stablemate High On Paydaze.
He followed up that OHSS performance with a 6 ½ length romp in the $66,953 Ohio Breeder’s Championship on Jug Day at the Delaware County Fair and a pair of big miles in Lexington.
In a $73,800 division of the Bluegrass Stake, Rock Candy rallied in the Red Mile stretch but came up a neck short to Lyons Night Hawk in 1:50.3.
During the second week of the Grand Circuit meet in the $62,000 International Stallion Stake, Rock Candy was again second, this time it was by two lengths to Workin Ona Mystery, another Brown trainee, in a 1:49.3 mile.
“He had a shot to win the (Ohio Sires Stake) Final. He got trapped and shuffled back. My other horse won, so I was not disappointed,” said Brown.
When Brown was reminded that not only did he train the first two finishers in that OHSS final, he trained the top five finishers, taking the entire $275,000 purse, the humble conditioner noted that “some days the sun shines bright, some days it doesn’t.
“Things went right at Delaware. He got a good trip both weeks at Lexington and raced super, so we put him away.”
Rock Candy started 2019 right where he left off, on top of his game. He won the $50,000 Scarlet and Gray Invitational (in a lifetime best 1:50.2), a pair of OHSS legs and a trio of conditioned events, all in the state of Ohio.
“We thought about it earlier in the year paying him up into the race at Yonkers (the Art Rooney Pace),” said Brown. “I have had trouble in the past taking nice Ohio 3-year-olds and we raced them out of state against the top horses early and it kind of cooked them. So we thought we would stay in Ohio.”
With a light early season schedule and big purse events down the road, Brown is looking for a little more versatility from his pupil.
“This year he has wound up on the front almost every time,” said Brown. “It was nice to see him race in the pocket in the qualifier (July 20 at Hoosier Park). Even Ronnie (Wrenn, Jr.) will admit his is better from behind than his is in front.”
“He is eligible to the Jug, Lexington, the races at Hoosier and the Matron. He has more to race for later in the year.”
The gelding will look to make it seven-in-a-row Saturday night at Scioto Downs in the third leg of the Ohio Sires Stake for sophomore pacers.
Rock Candy (post 2) was installed as the 6-5 morning line choice and will have services of his regular reinsman Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. Their toughest competition should come from Shamma Lamma (Peter Wrenn / 4-1 ML) and Yankee Boots (Dan Noble / 6-1 ML).
In the first $50,000 division, Brown will send out the 5-1 fourth choice Smackitwithahammer (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.), who is owned in part by Country Club Acres and Sbrocco.
Cross Country, who currently sits second in the OHSS points standings, is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Trainer/driver Luke Ebersole co-owns the Palone Ranger colt with his brother, Logan, and Cory Sipe.