Twirling Candy’s Gift Box Bests McKinzie in Too Close to Call Big ‘Cap

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 09:31

‘TDN Rising Star’ Gift Box provided his connections with back-to-back wins in the GI Santa Anita H., besting favored fellow ‘Rising Star’ McKinzie in a very tight photo finish. Hronis Racing and John Sadler won last year’s renewal with champion Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky).

Sent off as the 2-1 second-choice behind 2-5 chalk McKinzie, Gift Box stalked from second with McKinzie to his outside in third as Prime Attraction (Unbridled Song) walked the dog through soft opening splits of :24.24 and :49.23. Overtaking the pacesetter on the far turn, the gray was immediately confronted by McKinzie to his outside as Prime Attraction called it a day. The top two betting choice locked horns, battling stride-for-stride down the lane, and hit the wire almost in unison with Gift Box declared the winner of a very tight photo.

Third in the 2015 GII Remsen S. and second in the 2016 Curlin S., Gift Box made just two starts last term, finishing a second by a nose in an Aqueduct optional claimer last February and coming back to romp by 8 3/4 lengths in that same condition at the Big A that March. Privately purchased from W.S. Farish following that effort, he was transferred from Chad Brown to Hronis Racing’s sole trainer Sadler. Making his first start for these connections in the GII San Antonio S. Dec. 26, the gray bested the ill-fated GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway (Smart Strike) by a half-length. That win was further flattered when Battle of Midway beat McKinzie by a half-length next out in a sloppy renewal of the GII San Pasqual S. Feb. 2.

Pedigree Notes:

Gift Box is just the second Grade I winner for Twirling Candy and one of six graded stakes winners and 16 black-type winners for the Lane’s End stallion. Machmer Hall purchased his dam Special Me for just $6,000 at the 2009 Keeneland January Sale. Her second foal Stonetastic (Mizzen Mast) summoned just $77,000 at Keeneland September, but went on to win the GII Prioress S. and GII Inside Information and finished second in the GI Humana Distaff for earnings of $856,062. Her now-3-year-old filly Wamathaat (Speightstown) summoned $550,000 from Shadwell at KEESEP and is still unraced. Special Me is also responsible for the juvenile filly Special Honor (Honor Code), a $260,000 KEESEP buy; and a yearling filly by Medaglia d’Oro, who brought $500,000 from Larry Best’s OXO Equine at Fasig-Tipton November. The 13-year-old mare, who is a half-sister to UAE Highweight and G1SW Our New Recruit (Alphabet Soup), foaled an Into Mischief filly Mar. 23 of this year and will be bred back to Quality Road, according to Machmer Hall’s Carrie Brodgden.

SOURCE: TDN 4/6/19