07/04/2003 12:00AM

Candy Ride takes American Handicap


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Until Friday's $150,000 American Handicap at Hollywood Park, Candy Ride was unbeaten and untested in his first four starts. After the Grade 2 race over 1 1-8 miles on turf, the Argentine import can still claim to be undefeated.

Winning his first stakes in the U.S., Candy Ride overcame a stubborn Special Ring to win by three-quarters of a length. It was the smallest margin of victory in Candy Ride's career. In his first four starts, which includes two Group 1 races in Argentina last year and an allowance race in his U.S. debut last month, Candy Ride won by a combined 31 lengths.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Candy Ride ($4) was timed in 1:46.20. Always prominent, Candy Ride stalked Special Ring to early stretch, trailing by a length on the first turn and racing adjacent to the leader midway on the backstretch.

The two were well clear of their three rivals turning for home before Candy Ride took over in the final furlong. Special Ring finished two lengths clear of Irish Warrior, who was followed by Sunday Break and Ninebanks. Californian and Tijiyr were scratched on Friday morning.

Candy Ride races for Sid and Jenny Craig and trainer Ron McAnally. A winner of $149,145, the 4-year-old Candy Ride is being pointed for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 24.