Trainer Saeed bin Suroor shook his head slightly and politely said,“No, I will speak after,” when asked if he thought the Godolphin-ownedVineyard Haven, the unofficial winner of the Grade I King’s BishopStakes, would be disqualified.
Ian Wilkes, the trainer of runner-up Capt. Candyman Can who was hindered by Vineyard Haven, watched the winner’s number blink on the board. “I thought we were going to get by,” Wilkes said of the head decision. “We were rolling there. I don’t know what will happen.”
After several minutes of deliberation while the connections of the first two horses tensely waited for the verdict, the stewards disqualified Vineyard Haven and jockey Alan Garcia for interfering with Capt. Candyman Can and jockey Javier Castellano in deep stretch.
Wilkes, who scored his first Grade I victory in the $300,000 stakes, grinned and said, “We’ll take it anyway we can.”
Suroor stood alone on the sloppy track with his cell phone in hand; perhaps he was about to deliver the bad news to Sheik Mohammed. Suroor, however, did find the positive in Vineyard Haven’s comeback race – his first since finishing a disappointing fourth in the UAE 2000 Guineas in February.
“I’m disappointed with the result,” Suroor said. “But the important thing is that he is back.”
David Zell, who bred Capt. Candyman Can with longtime friend Dr. Joe Rauch and Suzi Shoemaker of Lantern Hill Farm, said he felt pretty confident the 3-year-old he owns in partnership with Rauch would ultimately earn the victory in the 7-furlong race.
“When we saw the head-on,” Zell said, “we made our way down to the winner’s circle.”
Zell and Rauch met in the 1970s, on a tennis court in Florida. After their match, Rauch, a longtime racing fan, invited Zell to Calder for the afternoon.
“We left there that day having bought a horse,” said Rauch, who practices urgent medical care in central Florida. “That horse won four races for us. For about 15 to 20 years we didn’t own a horse but it always remained a passion of mine. In the last several years, we got back into it. We’ve paid our dues; we lost four horses in freakish ways. We’ve poured our heart into this.”
Zell, Rauch and Shoemaker, who recommended the purchase of Capt. Candyman Can’s dam, Stormy Way, still own his mother who is in foal to Unbridled’s Song.
Capt. Candyman Can, a gelded son of Candy Ride, is Stormy Way’s second foal. He was going to be sold as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2007, but failed to make his reserve when he didn’t scope cleanly. He was bought back by Zell and Rauch for $25,000.
“Boy, aren’t we happy we did that,” Zell said as he thumped Rauch on the shoulder, not quite as hard as Vineyard Haven’s bump with Capt. Candyman Can.
Vineyard Haven, who looked glorious in the post parade, sped to the lead. He rattled off fractions of 22.19 and 44.64 seconds while being hounded by entrymate Everyday Heroes.
Meanwhile, Capt. Candyman Can lingered in seventh for a half-mile. Castellano swung his mount five-wide into the lane and Capt. Candyman Can began to accelerate. In the final furlong, it appeared the gelding would roll past Vineyard Haven, but his progress was impeded when he took two solid bumps to the shoulder by the pacesetter who was racing to his inside.
The final time was 1:22.35. Capt. Candyman Can returned $9.80 as the third choice.
Munnings, the favorite of the nine-horse field, finished third. John Velazquez, Munning’s rider, said his colt didn’t relish the sloppy going.
Capt. Candyman Can was coming off a second in Quality Road’s track-record performance in the Grade II Amsterdam here Aug. 3.
The King’s Bishop was his fourth stakes win this year. He also won the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Grade III Bay Shore at Aqueduct, and the ungraded Matt Winn at Churchill Downs.
The King’s Bishop was Capt. Candyman Can’s sixth victory in 10 starts, and elevated his earnings to $620,423.
In way of explaining his horse’s name, Rauch said he was a having a spot of insomnia one night and was going over possibilities in his head. A fan of the late Sammy Davis Jr., Rauch leapt from his bed and signed on to the Internet to see if the crooner’s tune, The Candy Man Can, was available on The Jockey Club’s database of names. It wasn’t.
“So I figured we would just put the Capt. in front,” Rauch said.
When Rauch was asked if the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita was on the radar for Capt. Candyman Can, he gave an uncharacteristic answer for an owner.
“I’ll have to talk to the trainer,” Rauch said. “Next year the Breeders’ Cup is at Churchill, so we want to be there for that. But for right now, we want to savor this.”