09/19/2003 11:00PM

Candy Ride likely done for the year

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Candy Ride, whose overpowering victory in last month's Pacific Classic made him one of the leading contenders for Horse of the Year, is unlikely to race again this season, his trainer, Ron McAnally, said Saturday morning from Santa Anita.

Candy Ride has not had a workout since the Aug. 24 Pacific Classic, which he won in track-record time for 1 1/4 miles at Del Mar, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 123, the highest number recorded by any horse, at any distance, on any surface, in North America this year. His next scheduled start had been the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, a race to which Candy Ride would have had to have been supplemented for $800,000 by owners Sid and Jenny Craig.

"Nothing's 100 percent definite yet, but I'm of the opinion the Craigs are going to give him time off until next year," McAnally said from his barn at Santa Anita. "It's not conclusive, but they are weighing it."

Candy Ride, an import from Argentina, only recently celebrated his actual fourth birthday. He has won all six of his starts - three in his native land and three in this country.

"He's only run six times, but he's been in training for three years without a stop," McAnally said. "If he runs in the Breeders' Cup, it might drain him some more. It's a long year next year. He's a young horse. He was only 3 when he beat Medaglia d'Oro in the Pacific Classic.

"Everything's on hold," McAnally added. "I'm just waiting for the Craigs to give me the word."

Adding fuel to the theory that Candy Ride will not run in the Classic is the fact that the Craigs, according to McAnally, recently made an inquiry regarding a private purchase of Perfect Drift, who has won the Stephen Foster Handicap and Kentucky Cup Classic this year.

Murray Johnson, who trains Perfect Drift, on Saturday said the 4-year-old gelding was not for sale. "We had crazy money thrown at us before the Kentucky Derby last year," Johnson said from Kentucky. "We're going to have him a long time."

Johnson reiterated that Perfect Drift will be skipping the Breeders' Cup. He is scheduled to run in Sunday's Hawthorne Gold Cup, then await the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, Johnson said.