07/07/2003 12:00AM

Candy Ride in no rush

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Ron McAnally is not starting his best older horse in Sunday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

While he will run Piensa Sonando, the winner of the Native Diver Handicap last fall, he will not run the unbeaten Candy Ride until the Del Mar meeting.

Last Friday, Candy Ride pushed his winning streak to five with a hard-fought victory in the $150,000 American Handicap on turf. McAnally and owners Sid and Jenny Craig considered the American Handicap a prep for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 24.

Because of the American Handicap and the Gold Cup are only nine days apart, McAnally never considered starting Candy Ride in both races. Instead, McAnally is planning to train Candy Ride up to the Pacific Classic.

"He does everything right in the mornings," McAnally said. "He is very easy to train."

The Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic are Grade 1 stakes, a level at which Candy Ride has not yet run in the United States. In Argentina, he won two Group 1 races over about a mile on turf. In his U.S. debut last month, Candy Ride was an impressive winner of an allowance race on dirt.

In the Grade 2 American Handicap, Candy Ride, who won his first four starts by a combined 31 lengths, was tested for the first time in his career.

Always prominent under Gary Stevens, Candy Ride stalked Special Ring to early stretch. The two were well clear of their three rivals turning for home. Special Ring led in early stretch, but Candy Ride took over in the final furlong, winning by three-quarters of a length. Candy Ride ($4) was timed in 1:46.20 for 1 1/8 miles.

"Special Ring is a lot more experienced than our horse," McAnally said. "The thing that impressed me more than anything was they set a slow pace. He was tough to catch after that."

Gold Cup coming up strong

Even without Candy Ride, the Gold Cup will draw a respectable field.

Congaree, the winner of three stakes this year, tops a group that includes the New York invader Harlan's Holiday; Kudos and Piensa Sonando, the first two finishers of the Californian Stakes; Western Pride, the winner of the San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita in April; Golden Ticket, a stakes winner at Philadelphia Park; and Rodion, a longshot trained by Darrell Vienna.

Harlan's Holiday was scratched from last Saturday's Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in favor of the Gold Cup.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Congaree's participation depends on a workout at Hollywood Park on Tuesday. Congaree has not started at Hollywood Park since winning the 2001 Swaps Stakes.

Piensa Sonando is winless in his last six starts, all graded stakes. In last month's Californian over 1 1/8 miles, Piensa Sonando closed from last in a field to seven to lead late but was caught on the line by Kudos.

"He runs best on this track," McAnally said.

Taking on Kudos does not bother McAnally as much as facing the other top contenders. "I would be more afraid of Congaree or Harlan's Holiday," he said. "They are the favorites."

Two major stakes on Gold Cup undercard

The Gold Cup is the top race on a Sunday program that includes two other major stakes, a $1 million guaranteed pick six, and an early post time of 1 p.m. Pacific.

There are seven probables for the $400,000 Swaps Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles. Ten Most Wanted, the runner-up in the Belmont Stakes on June 7, will face Blazonry, Bullistic, During, Eye of the Tiger, Logician, and Outta Here.

In the $250,000 A Gleam Handicap for fillies and mares over seven furlongs, You, a multiple stakes winner who has earned $1,891,353, and Madame Pietra, the winner of four consecutive stakes, share top weight of 121 pounds. Other probables are Affluent, Bear Fan, Brisquette, and Cee's Elegance.

Sky Jack successful in allowance

Sky Jack, the winner of the 2002 Hollywood Gold Cup, won a $76,880 allowance race on Saturday, his first victory since returning to racing last month following knee surgery.

Sent off as the favorite in an eight-horse field that included five other stakes winners, Sky Jack led throughout the 1 1/16 miles, beating Legendary Weave by two lengths. He finished in 1:41.15.

More important for owners Rene and Margie Lambert and trainer Doug O'Neill, Sky Jack, 7, emerged from the race in good shape.

"He looks good," O'Neill said. "After a what we've been through, I go into his stall with one eye open. This track seems to be good to him."

O'Neill's long-term goal for Sky Jack is the California Cup Classic in November, a race that the gelding won in 2000. O'Neill said Sky Jack will not start at Del Mar and may return in the $250,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 24.

The disappointment in the field was General Challenge. The winner of the 2000 Santa Anita Handicap, he finished unplaced for the third consecutive time since returning from a 2 1/2-year layoff.

Olivares second in first ride of comeback

Frank Olivares on Sunday ended a 12-year hiatus from riding aboard Laffit, a horse he formerly trained, finishing second in a sprint for $10,000 claimers.

Olivares, 53, announced last month that he was disbanding his small stable to resume riding.

Laffit, sent off at 6-1, finished two lengths behind Slew Stew but had some trouble. Olivares had Laffit in a ground-saving position on the turn, but had to wait for room in early stretch.

Olivares said "it felt great" to be back to riding.

Laffit was vanned off after the race after being diagnosed as unsound in his left foreleg, track stewards said. He was claimed by Paul Aguirre in a three-way shake.

Olivares has no mounts booked for Wednesday. He has retained Kevin Burns as an agent.

Tizdubai injures herself in winning debut

Tizdubai, a 2-year-old full-sister to two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow, ran a remarkable race to win her debut on Sunday.

Ridden by David Flores, Tizdubai ($4) raced in tight behind the leaders until early stretch, forced her way between horses in early stretch and ran down Blowing Bartok to win the maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs by 1 1/2 lengths.

"I was just being patient," said Flores, smiling.

Harty said that Tizdubai grabbed a quarter at the start and may not be ready for the $125,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes for California-bred 2-year-old fillies on July 25.

Tizdubai races for Darley Stud. She was purchased for $950,000 as a weanling in November 2001, shortly after Tiznow won his second Breeders' Cup Classic.

Maiden bomb connects at 110-1

On Saturday, the 2-year-old Capitano stunned bettors in a maiden special weight race, returning $222. Trained by Ray Bell and ridden by Anthony Lovato, Capitano rallied on the inside to edge 3-5 favorite Attack Alert over 5 1/2 furlongs.

Bell, who admitted to having a bet of "just a minimal amount," was impressed with the way Capitano fought along the rail.

"He was an unknown quantity because he'd done everything we'd wanted him to do," he said. "He worked as fast as we wanted him to. He didn't have it handed to him at all."

* Jockey Patrick Valenzuela has a commanding 13-win lead in the jockey standings with two weeks remaining in the meeting. On Saturday, Valenzuela won five races for the second time at the meeting. He nearly won a sixth race in the 10th race, but finished third, by a head, aboard But of Course in a maiden race on turf.

* Jockey Matt Garcia has lost an appeal of a 10-day suspension and will serve the days during the final two weeks of the Hollywood meeting, beginning Wednesday. Garcia received the suspension after he was cited for causing interference in a race at Santa Anita in February. In that race, jockey Joe Steiner was thrown from his mount and suffered injuries to his face and ankle. He has yet to return to racing. Garcia appealed the suspension but an administrative law judge upheld the stewards' ruling.