By: Meredith Daugherty
In a weekend of impressive stretch duels, Paul and Karen Eggert's filly Ollie's Candy turned in her own memorable performance July 28 and defeated grade 1 winner Secret Spice by a head in the $300,351 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.
Guided by Kent Desormeaux, Ollie's Candy broke well from post 3 and made an early move for the lead. Running just off the rail, the filly was sent to the front, where she dueled early with Queen Bee to You.
Away well, Secret Spice and Flavien Prat settled well back in third, more than four lengths behind the leaders. Ollie's Candy set fractions of :23.05, :46.68, and 1:11.32 through six furlongs, widening her margin to three lengths as Secret Spice began her three-wide advance headed into the second turn. Spring in the Wind, the sole Ontario-bred in the field of six, tried to keep pace with the frontrunners in fourth but began to drop back as the pack picked up momentum just before the stretch run.
Secret Spice hammered down the stretch to draw on even terms with Ollie's Candy and poked a head in front as the mile went in 1:37.65. With only the final yards to run, Ollie's Candy dug in with all she had and got up on the bob to prevail over Secret Spice at the wire. The final time was 1:44.66 on a fast track.
"I was just letting her do her thing; reins were dangling," said Desormeaux. "At the quarter pole, I picked her up and she did the rest. She came again (in the lane). That other mare got in front of us, but my mare is a fighter. She wants to win. (Trainer) John (Sadler) is on a roll. He just let me come along today."
“She ran a huge race," said Prat of the runner-up. "She just got beat today.”
Santa Maria Stakes (G2) winner La Force, who saved ground at the back of the field before chasing down rivals in deep stretch, got up to take third. Paradise Woods, Spring in the Wind, and Queen Bee to You completed the order of finish.
A Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" race, the Clement Hirsch earned Ollie's Candy an automatic berth in the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
It was the fifth Clement Hirsch victory for Sadler, who won in 2006 with Healthy Addiction, again in 2014 with Iotapa, and in back-to-back renewals with champion Stellar Wind in 2016-17.
"(Ollie's Candy) is a really nice filly who ran in some big races here last year for (trainer) Bill Morey Jr. She came my way (two starts ago) in really good shape, and I've just kind of carried on for what he did last year," said Sadler.
Ollie's Candy broke her maiden on debut at 3 for Morey and earned her first graded win two starts later in the Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita. Switched to turf for her next start in the San Clemente Stakes (G2T), the filly finished second, a neck behind War Heroine. She closed her sophomore season with another runner-up performance on the grass when Fatale Bere edged her by a neck in the Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club (G1T).
Ollie's Candy finished off the board in her first start of 2019—the May 27 Gamely Stakes (G1T) at Santa Anita. She bounced back one start later to finish second in the June 22 Wilshire Stakes (G3T) before the decision was made to try the filly back on the dirt.
"She ran a good race her last start at Santa Anita—came down here and had a bullet work over the track, which showed me she had an affinity for the dirt. A lot of Candy Rides can run on any surface. You don't give Kent any instructions. You just don't. So I was surprised to see her in front, but it worked out."
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, Ollie's Candy is the third foal produced by the Stroll mare Afternoon Stroll, winner of Keeneland's Appalachian Stakes (G3T). The filly is a half sister to stakes-placed Celestial Sighting.
Consigned by Denali Stud to the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Ollie's Candy failed to sell on a final bid of $45,000 and was retained by the Eggerts. She has four wins and three second-place finishes in eight starts for earnings of $452,151.