Candyman E, Dads Caps meet again in Tom Fool Handicap
By Jon Forbes | 02/24/2014 04:53 PM ET
In two consecutive starts, Candyman E has edged Dads Caps in the waning strides to prevail by three-quarters of a length in stakes races at Aqueduct Racetrack. On Saturday, the two sprinters will meet again in Aqueduct's Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up.
Candyman E, winner of the 2011 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, has won three straight, starting with a 3 ½-length victory when he was dangled for a $62,500 tag in an optional claimer in October at Belmont Park. He was claimed that day by trainer David Jacobson and owner Gold Square LLC.
Re-emerging in the restricted Spooky Mulder Stakes in December, Candyman E returned immediate dividends when he raced one length behind Dads Caps a quarter-mile from home before overtaking the pacesetter with 50 yards to travel. The Grade 3 Toboggan played out in almost identical fashion, except Candyman E came from two lengths off the pace and took the lead approximately 20 yards closer to the finish.
Candyman E, a 7-year-old gelding, drew outside of Dads Caps, a 4-year-old colt, in the Spooky Mulder and the Toboggan, but the roles will be reversed in the Tom Fool, with Candyman E drawing post position 2 and Dads Caps drawing post 4.
In addition to Candyman E, Jacobson entered Drawing Away Stable's Strapping Groom in the Tom Fool. They are the top choices on the morning line, with Strapping Groom installed as the 7-5 favorite and Candyman E tabbed at 5-2.
Candyman E and Strapping Groom have competed against each other once, with Strapping Groom beating runner-up Candyman E by 1 ¾ lengths in the restricted Kid Russell Stakes in August at Saratoga. Strapping Groom upset the Grade 1 Forego at 15-1 in his following start.
"Even before I got [Candyman E] he finished second to Strapping Groom," said Jacobson. "That made him stand out the day we claimed him. I feel very fortunate to be talking about both of these horses before such an important race."
Since winning the Forego, Strapping Groom has finished third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational in September, fourth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap in October, second in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap in November, and first by 6 ½ lengths in Aqueduct's Gravesend Handicap on December 21. Strapping Groom drew post 1 for the Tom Fool.
"Right now, we've had a little difficulty with training because of weather conditions," said Jacobson. "When the track has been open, the track has been in great shape. When we have days when we can't train, it seems to hurt Strapping Groom more than Candyman E. Weather permitting, I'm going to train up to the race and make a decision on which one will run, or both.
"They have similar styles of racing, but if were running today I'd probably run them both," Jacobson continued. "They're both training very well. Strapping Groom is just a little behind because of the weather."
C.C. Lopez, who rode Dads Caps in the Spooky Mulder and Candyman E in the Toboggan, will ride Candyman E in the Tom Fool. Irad Ortiz, Jr. was named to ride Strapping Groom.
Rudy Rodriguez, who trains Daps Caps for breeder Vincent Scuderi, credited Jacobson for his work with Candyman E.
"David Jacobson has done an excellent job with the horses he is training," said Rodriguez. "I'm hoping [Candyman E] bounces a little bit and we move forward a little bit. Candyman E is a game horse, and he loves the inner track. We'll give Dads Caps another chance and hope we can get lucky. [In the Spooky Mulder] we had a little excuse because he broke through the gate [before the race], but [in the Toboggan] we had everything go our way but Dads Caps came and got us. He passed us like we were standing still, so we had no excuse."
Cornelio Velasquez, who piloted Candyman E in the Spooky Mulder and Dads Caps in the Toboggan, has the assignment aboard Dads Caps on Saturday. Dads Caps, 3-1 on the morning line, drew post 4.
The field also includes Saturday's Charm, second by a nose in last year's Tom Fool; Non Stop, third in the 2014 Toboggan; Sensational Slam, a stakes winner who was second in a starter allowance on February 17; and Jake N Elwood, third in an optional claimer on December 26.
The field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap: