12/03/2004 12:00AM

Candid Glen is back in business

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NEW ORLEANS - Candid Glen looked better than ever Thursday, when he returned from a 15-month layoff to beat a sprint allowance field at 7 1/2 furlongs over the Fair Grounds grass course.

A 7-year-old gelding by El Gran Senor, Candid Glen was so primed to run that he tracked the pacesetters in third to the top of the stretch rather than employ his usual come-from-behind style. Candid Glen turned in his usual powerful stretch run, forging to the lead at the quarter pole, and easily holding off Justlikedawg through the lane.

Candid Glen came out of the race in great shape, according to trainer Andy Leggio Jr., and will run again in the $100,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the grass on Jan. 15, part of the Road to the Derby Kickoff Day with the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes, the Tiffany Lass stakes, and the Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial Handicap. Candid Glen has run three times in the Col. Bradley, his best result a second-place finish in 2002, when the race was taken off the turf.

_Candid Glen had been treated over the years by veterinarian Dr. Gene Norman for an upper suspensory ailment in his right leg. "It's a common injury that usually responds to anti-inflammatory drugs," Norman said. But after finishing eighth in the Arlington Handicap on July 26, 2003, Candid Glen did not respond to his usual treatment and an X-ray revealed a small tear.

"We thought about using shock wave therapy, but it's outlawed in Louisiana, and he's a funny horse to ship," Norman said. "It usually takes about two hours to get him into the van. So we went with a bone marrow injection."

Bone marrow from Candid Glen's sternum was injected into the leg. "It was a slow rehabilitation process, but he's excellent now," Norman said. "He really looks like his old self. I haven't been asked to treat him in a long time. He's got a lot of heart."

The only one of Candid Glen's connections who was disappointed was regular jockey Elvis Perrodin, who was replaced by Lonnie Meche after being injured in a gate accident before the first race of the day. Candid Glen was one of three winning rides Perrodin lost Thursday. Leggio said Perrodin will get the call again the next time Candid Glen runs.

Full fields for turf races

The forecast of rain over the weekend is bad news for Fair Grounds racing secretary Ben Huffman, who attracted full 12-horse fields for Sunday's two turf routes, including the $30,000 allowance feature for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

The wide-open race features a pair of Michael Stidham-trained 3-year-old fillies - Tisket A Tasket, who finished second in a pair of similar non-winners-of-one-other-than allowance races in Kentucky, and Beau Happy, who won a maiden special weight on the turf at Arlington Park, then ran second in an entry level allowance race at Hawthorne.

Trainer Steve Asmussen entered Kivi in the race off a tough beat at Churchill, where he dueled for the lead throughout and weakened late to finish third. Kivi, who raced in France as a 3-year-old, has yet to win in five United States starts and may have finally found the right spot.

Candy Verse, a 5-year-old Candy Stripes mare, is the most experienced runner of the bunch, with 13 in-the-money finishes (2-4-7) in 20 starts on the weeds. Her outside post and front-running style both work against Candy Verse on a track that favors closers. Legendary Lass should enjoy a good stalking trip from the rail under Robby Albarado and demonstrated her sharpness with a 1:01.80 five-furlong breeze on Nov. 28, the fastest of 53 moves at the distance.

The maiden special weight on the turf for 2-year-old fillies attracted several well-bred newcomers, including Rockin Romanov and Alex's Allure, who is a Sky Classic filly.

The top race in the condition book, a $34,000 allowance sprint, failed to fill when the owners of Bonapaw, who is due to make his comeback at Fair Grounds after retiring earlier this year, decided not to enter the race.

* Jockey Eddie Martin will start his Fair Grounds season a bit late Sunday after serving a suspension for careless riding handed down by the Kentucky stewards.