08/18/2003 11:00PM

'Candy' rider still a mystery


DEL MAR, Calif. - The matter of who will ride Candy Ride will wait another day. Trainer Ron McAnally on Tuesday morning said that he and owners Sid and Jenny Craig would not decide who would replace the injured Gary Stevens until Wednesday, when entries are due for Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

The Pacific Classic is being drawn at a cocktail party at a local hotel after the races on Wednesday evening. The rest of Sunday's card is scheduled to be drawn on Thursday.

McAnally said numerous agents had contacted him regarding the mount, and that he and Craig had discussed using several riders. Asked to name them, McAnally said, "We're still undecided."

McAnally, however, has his day-to-day riding preferences. In addition to Stevens, he regularly uses Julie Krone, Corey Nakatani, Mike Smith, and Alex Solis. Solis already is committed to riding Kudos.

Of the remaining three, Krone and Smith seem the best fit for Candy Ride. When Stevens rode Candy Ride in the American Handicap on July 4, he sat quietly on him for the first part of the race, a style for which both Krone and Smith are known.

McAnally is Del Mar's winningest trainer of all time, but he has yet to win the Pacific Classic.

The Pacific Classic is expected to have just five starters. In addition to Candy Ride and Kudos, expected starters are Fleetstreet Dancer (Tyler Baze), Medaglia d'Oro (Jerry Bailey), and Milwaukee Brew (Edgar Prado).

Under the weight-for-age conditions of the 1 1/4-mile race, those five would all carry 124 pounds.

Frankel pair jogs

Medaglia d'Oro and Milwaukee Brew, who arrived late Monday afternoon after a flight from New York, both jogged around the Del Mar main track on Tuesday morning. They were scheduled to gallop on Wednesday through Saturday mornings, according to Humberto Ascanio, the assistant trainer who has overseen Frankel's Del Mar barn all summer.

Frankel has been in New York for most of the past three months, but Ascanio said Frankel would fly to California after Saturday's Travers Stakes in order to attend the Pacific Classic.

Frankel has won the Pacific Classic six times in its 12 runnings.

Eventful day for Valenzuela

Pat Valenzuela entered Monday's card tied with Krone for the meet's leading rider. By the day's end, Valenzuela had increased his lead to three over Krone, had received a five-day suspension for careless riding from the stewards, was named to replace Stevens in a match race against Krone, and had benefited from a disqualification in the day's featured seventh race.

Valenzuela won four of Monday's eight races and now leads Krone by 27-24 in the jockeys' standings. Those two will square off in a match race here on Sept. 7, now that Valenzuela has been named by the track to replace the injured Stevens. The match race was originally to feature Krone and Stevens, both members of the Hall of Fame.

Earlier Monday, Valenzuela was given a careless riding suspension by the stewards after being disqualified aboard Surprized in Sunday's first race. The suspension is mandated to begin Saturday, but Valenzuela will appeal the suspension in order to keep riding. As with many high-profile riders, he attempts to serve his suspensions during less-demanding times, such as when Fairplex is racing.

Valenzuela was the beneficiary of the stewards' disqualification in Monday's seventh race. The stewards ruled that Denied, ridden by Victor Espinoza, interfered with Valenzuela's mount, Designed for Luck, in the closing yards of the turf race.

The stewards had three views of the incident - a traditional pan shot, a head-on shot that is at an angle because the camera is positioned for a true head-on of the main track, and a rear view of the field. The rear view, from a camera positioned at the quarter pole that is aligned with the turf course, was the one that best supported the stewards's decision, but it was never shown to the fans while the inquiry was being conducted. It finally was shown, after the race was made official, when stewards were alerted that that view was never shown to the public.

"We're supposedly going to have a head-on camera on the turf next year," said George Slender, one of the stewards.

Del Mar management has made that promise for several seasons now, but has yet to follow through.

Rivals, then teammates

Valenzuela certainly helped his cause by taking Designed for Luck down toward Denied as the field neared the wire. After getting the win via disqualification, Valenzuela headed to the paddock for the final race, where he had a mount for trainer Jeff Mullins, whose Denied had just been taken down.

"I told him it wouldn't hurt as bad if he won this one, too," Mullins said.

He did. Standing Tall, the odds-on favorite, won by 9 1/2 lengths.

Mullins had mixed feelings about the disqualification of Denied.

"I don't think Designed for Luck was going to go by, but we did take his spot," Mullins said.

Mullins and Designed for Luck's trainer, Vladimir Cerin, were involved in another inquiry, with the same jockeys, on Aug. 8. That day, Mullins's horse, The Borg Queen, who crossed the wire first under Espinoza, was not disqualified by the stewards.

* Gulf of Mexico, an impressive debut winner against 2-year-old maidens for trainer Eoin Harty on Monday, could return in the closing-day Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 10, according to Alex Hassinger, Harty's assistant.

* Sarafan has been assigned top weight of 122 pounds and will head the field in Friday's $75,000 Harry Brubaker Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf, trainer Neil Drysdale said.