Danzing Candy's victory leaves some question as to just how solid the West Coast 3-year-old division is in the absence of Nyquist. To be sure, the winner didn't run a bad race. While he was able to cruise on an open lead, he carved out legitimate fractions to do to. Nonetheless, this was no California Chrome-style performance of coming home fast and with plenty of gas obviously still in the tank. While Mike Smith had no need to press his mount hard through the stretch and didn't, he clearly wasn't going into cruise control either, and Danzig Candy's final 5/16 in :33 flat wasn't particularly impressive.
Of his defeated rivals, the consistent Mor Spirit obviously showed most, making up close to three lengths in the final sixteenth after swinging to the outside, but he will need to do more than that to contend with the top colts in the division. Exaggerator gave the impression of simply being not good enough, and Smokey Image was wide throughout and had nothing left in the stretch.
At this point, it looks as if Danzig Candy will face pretty much the same group of colts in the Santa Anita Derby (USA-I) on April 9, and the extra sixteenth of a mile will be telling as to his Kentucky Derby prospects, especially if he doesn't get an uncontested lead. While his sire Twirling Candy was a Grade II winner at 9 furlongs and Grade I-placed at 10 furlongs, he scored his biggest win at 7 furlongs, and the dam's side of Danzing Candy's pedigree is more suggestive of a miler.
Regardless of the Santa Anita Derby's outcome, the odds look pretty good that a colt coming out of Florida will be the Kentucky Derby favorite. It probably won't be Destin, but the powerful gray is now in an enviable position. He doesn't need any more points to make the Derby field; he has the bloodlines to say that 10 furlongs shouldn't give him any trouble; and he has the option of training up to the Derby or taking on one more prep (which he doesn't have to win) depending on how he progresses from Saturday's race. In a day when so many colts are on a tight schedule to get everything they need out of a couple of pre-Derby races, having that kind of flexibility to work with is a precious asset that shouldn't be overlooked.