Candrea is set to run in the 1 1/16 mile Oak Leaf in a couple of weeks.
What? Did Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea all of a sudden become a runner?
Well, not exactly. Candrea is one of the world’s best and fastest 2-year-old horses and named after, of course, Arizona’s world class softball coach. Local horse owners Paul Weitman and Karl Watson are back at it with one of the best 2-year-olds in the game with Candrea, winner last week of the $50,000 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.
The win now puts Candrea into the prestigious Oak Leaf Stakes to be run in two weeks at Santa Anita in Los Angeles.
Weitman, Watson and Mike Pegram (another owner) have teamed up with former Arizona alum Bob Baffert, a Hall of Fame horse trainer, to have great success with horses named after Arizona coaches. Da Stoops (Mike Stoops) was a multi-stakes winner and Midnight Lute (Lute Olson) was a two-time Breeder’s Cup winner and one of the fastest horses a couple of years ago.
The catch? Well, the horse is a fillie. Then again, Candrea does coach the women’s softball team.
It’s been a great summer for Weitman, Watson, Pegram and Baffert. Star horse Coil won the Haskell Invitational in grand fashion in late July, rallying from the back of the pack in defeating some of the best horses in the world. And to end the Del Mar meet almost two weeks ago, Drill, another 2-year-old, won the Del Mar Futurity, the same race won by Lookin’ at Lucky in 2009, the trio’s horse that won the Preakness in 2010 and was the Kentucky Derby favorite.