11/30/2004 1:00AM

Candid Glen back to racing

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Candid Glen, winner of the Grade 2 Explosive Bid Handicap at Fair Grounds in March 2003, returns to action after a 15-month layoff Thursday in the feature race at Fair Grounds, a $36,000 allowance on the grass at about 7 1/2 furlongs. A 7-year-old El Gran Senor gelding, Candid Glen has bankrolled more than $1.61 million on the grass, finishing in the money in 21 of his 34 turf starts.

Candid Glen was in rambunctious spirits earlier this week, lunging out of his stall trying to bite visitors. His trainer, Andy Leggio Jr., liked the way the horse was acting.

"We're really looking forward to having him back," said Leggio. "He's been out since July of '03."

was sidelined after finishing eighth in the Arlington Handicap on July 26, 2003, with a chronic upper suspensory ailment that needed aggressive treatment. Veterinarian Dr. Gene Norman recommended a bone marrow injection to help the healing process, and a team at Louisiana State University took bone marrow from Candid Glen's sternum and injected it into his upper suspensory.

"For a long time it didn't look like it was working," said Leggio. "But he started to come around, and now he's as good as ever."

Candid Glen loves the Fair Grounds turf course, where he has won about half of his grass earnings in 12 starts. The course plays well to horses with a strong stretch kick, and Candid Glen almost always runs hardest from the quarter pole home.

, coupled with Kool Humor as the Jack Bruner-trained entry, will probably set the pace. Xirius, by Joyeux Dancer, is a Grade 1 stakes winner on dirt in Panama. Closers Just Gossip (2-0-5 in eight starts on turf at Fair Grounds) and Justlikedawg (1-2-2 in six) both relish the Fair Grounds grass.

The biggest threat to Candid Glen may well be Alumni Hall, trained by Neil Howard and ridden by Robby Albarado. Alumni Hall, a 5-year-old by A.P. Indy out of an Alydar mare, will be making his first turf start after knocking heads with some of the top handicap horses in the country.

Howard also has entered in the Tenacious Handicap on Friday, but said he is more likely to run Midway Road in that race. With rain possible this week, Howard may have entered Alumni Hall for Thursday's race in case it comes off the grass. That eventuality is unlikely to deter Candid Glen, who has two wins and three second-place finishes over off tracks.