06/16/2004 11:00PM

Candy Ride resumes training on July 1

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It has been a long road back for unbeaten Grade 1 winner Candy Ride and Grade 1-placed filly Solar Echo, who both are nearing a return to serious training for Ron McAnally. If they make it back, it will be more than a year since each last raced on Aug. 24 at Del Mar. Candy Ride won the Pacific Classic, and Solar Echo finished an unlucky second in the Del Mar Oaks. Both were sidelined and have not raced since.

McAnally said Candy Ride will resume training July 1, his third attempt at a comeback.

"The first time we stopped on him was because of his feet," he said. "The second time we had him up to five-eighths and he had a filling in an ankle." Candy Ride underwent a variety of treatments to bring down the filling and McAnally said, "It's set and hard now."

Candy Ride's last breeze was April 1, and McAnally and owners Sid and Jenny Craig can only hope the 6-for-6 Argentine is able to resume training without further setback. "Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't," McAnally said. It would take three months - early October - until Candy Ride is ready to race.

Solar Echo is returning from ankle surgery. She rallied off a slow pace to finish second in the Del Mar Oaks, then underwent ankle surgery. A 4-year-old filly owned by her breeder, Janis Whitham, Solar Echo has 3 wins and 2 seconds in 5 starts.

Close-knit operation

It's one big, happy family at trainer Kristin Mulhall's barn. While her 3-year-old Cheiron tries to win his first graded stakes Saturday in the Affirmed Handicap, the colt's 2-year-old half-sister, Fortunate Event, will prep for the Grade 3 Landaluce on July 5. And though graded stakes winner Puerto Banus is out until late summer, that 5-year-old turf runner's younger half-brother Fantastic Spain threatens to become an important turf horse.

Fortunate Event is a maiden after two starts, but finished second in the Cinderella Stakes on June 6 at 5 1/2 furlongs, and Mulhall said "she just needs more ground, at least three-quarters." She'll get it July 5 in the Grade 3 Landaluce, even though Mulhall is aware "that Baffert filly looks pretty nice." She was referring to My Miss Storm Cat, whose spectacular May 29 debut earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99. My Miss Storm Cat worked five furlongs Thursday at Santa Anita in 1:01.20.

Puerto Banus became ill after the Grade 2 San Luis Rey, and Mulhall said he will not return until late in the Del Mar meet. Meanwhile, his 4-year-old half-brother Fantastic Spain won a first-condition allowance June 12 like a colt with much promise, and Mulhall believes he has the potential to be at least as good as Puerto Banus, a two-time graded stakes winner. Fantastic Spain and Puerto Banus were produced by the same dam who produced $3.5-million earner Spain.

Agent out for surgery

Longtime jockey agent Bob Meldahl will undergo open-heart surgery Tuesday in Pasadena and be out of commission for three weeks. Meldahl, who books mounts for Mike Smith and David Flores, said he would be hospitalized five to six days. He expects to return to work full-time by the start of the Del Mar meet on July 21.

While Meldahl is out, Flores's mounts will be booked by Tom Knust, and Smith's business will be handled by Brad Pegram.

Alphabet Kisses to wait for Del Mar

Alphabet Kisses has done enough for one meet.

The streaking 3-year-old filly won her third straight June 10 when she wired a field of 3-year-old allowance turf fillies. Trainer Marty Jones said Alphabet Kisses, a California-bred daughter of Alphabet Soup, would get a break until opening weekend at Del Mar and return in the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old California-bred fillies.

"She's been running hard, and that's probably the right thing for her," Jones said, adding that "there are a lot of good Cal-bred fillies out there." Alphabet Kisses is owned and was bred by John Harris.

Roman Ruler ready for debut

Bred to be a monster, and training every bit the part, the 2-year-old colt Roman Ruler will make his debut in race 6 on Saturday.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Roman Ruler is a half-brother to Baffert's multiple graded stakes winner El Corredor. Sired by Fusaichi Pegasus, Roman Ruler was purchased for $500,000. Owned by Fog City Stable, he debuts with a series of impressive workouts. A field of 10 entered the five-furlong stakes, including the Willard Proctor runner-up, Dance Thief, and the fast-working Straightandstrong.

Road success for Adoration

Adoration did something June 12 she had never done - ship out of state and win.

"She finally shipped well. That's what we were trying to figure out," trainer David Hofmans said, sounding relieved. In two previous trips, Adoration finished out of the money, but she won the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis by 1 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs on June 12. The ultimate goal is a defense of her Breeders' Cup Distaff victory. This year's Breeders' Cup will be at Lone Star Park.

"The Breeders' Cup is our goal. We'll work backward from there," Hofmans said. Adoration is owned by John and Jerry Amerman.

Hendricks targets Triple Bend

Trainer Dan Hendricks figures good-naturedly that the Triple Bend Handicap owes him. His Record Boom finished a troubled third in the 1992 running, and the trainer may try the race this year with Reba's Gold, who ran fourth in his May 31 comeback at Bay Meadows.

"I got robbed in that race," Hendricks said of the 1992 Triple Bend. "Record Boom should have won by two lengths."

Instead, he finished third, and the chart footnotes support Hendricks's tale: Record Boom "was boxed in from the five-sixteenths marker to the furlong marker . . . but was not able to get up." Record Boom later gained fame as Daily Racing Form's past-performance explanation horse.

As for Reba's Gold, "I ran him short the other day, and he wasn't ready for them going 46, 1:09.40, and 1:40. He got a lot out of that race." Reba's Gold finished fourth in that Grade 3 stakes, and the 8-for-35 pro, owned by Alex Trebek, has worked well since. He has earned $702,422, racing mostly around two turns. Reba's Gold will run in the seven-furlong Triple Bend unless another spot becomes available.