Rock Your World and jockey Umberto Rispoli win the Grade I $750,000 Santa Anita Derby Saturday, April 3, 2021 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA.   Benoit Photo

by Danny Brewer

Remember when you went out on Halloween night and got a sack full of candy. After returning home it was fun to sort through and hopefully you would find the special piece that was your favorite. As the May 1 Kentucky Derby approaches, Thoroughbred trainer John Sadler is hoping he has a special piece of Candy that he can unwrap for all to enjoy.

Rock Your World is a lightly raced but unbeaten son of Candy Ride that Sadler will send to the starting gates for the world’s most famous race. The California based conditioner’s World punched his ticket to Churchill Downs with an emphatic gate to wire win in the Santa Anita Derby on April 3. Making just his third career start but first on dirt, his romp opened a lot of eyes in the horse racing world.

“Truthfully, he ran beyond our expectations,” says Sadler. “We always thought he had a lot of potential, but we never expected him to run as well as he did in his first start in graded stakes company and his first start on dirt.”

Rock Your World had enjoyed wins over the Santa Anita turf course in the first two starts of his career. Unraced at two, he broke his maiden in a six furlong turf race on New year’s Day. Following that up with a win at a mile on the grass in the Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita, the stage was set for his dirt debut. The Kentucky Derby was not at the forefront of his racing plans, but after he Rocked it on April 3, it was on.

“Our main goal was to just let him develop as a race horse,” says Sadler, who has saddled four previous runners in the Kentucky Derby. “We wanted to find out if he was a Derby horse and I think we got our answer in his last start.”

Interestingly enough, this will be the third son of Candy Ride that Sadler takes to the twin spires for a Run at the Roses. In 2010 he saddled Sidney’s Candy (17th place finish) and in 2014 it was Candy Boy (14th). Although he never ran on the first Saturday in May, Twirling Candy may have been his best son of Candy Ride as he won seven races with a second and a third in eleven career starts for the Sadler barn.

Of course, the legendary father of these runners will go down as one of the best to ever toe the track. Bred in Argentina, Candy Ride was unbeaten in six career starts and had that special greatness about him that just does not come along every day. Closing his career with a win in the 2003 Pacific Classic, his smooth stride was impeccable.

“We have been fortunate enough to have quite a few Candy Ride horses in our barn over the years,” says Sadler. “He was a really special race horse for sure. I am hoping we have some of that brilliance with Rock Your World.”

Come May 1, we will all find out just how special Sadler’s piece of Candy really is.