04/20/2004 11:00PM

Candy Ride's return hits snag

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Candy Ride, one of the nation's top handicap horses last year, has been sidelined because of filling in an ankle, trainer Ron McAnally said.

Unbeaten in six starts, Candy Ride has not started since winning the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last summer. He had worked frequently in recent weeks, and was preparing for his 2004 debut.

Candy Ride, 5, underwent X-rays earlier this week but no serious damage was found.

"The X-rays were negative," McAnally said. "This is the first time the swelling has been there. We had him up to a couple of five-eighths works."

Candy Ride will be off the racetrack until further diagnosis is made, McAnally said. He did not give a timetable of how long Candy Ride would be out of training.

"It will be a day at a time," McAnally said.

Owned by Sid and Jenny Craig, Candy Ride began his career in Argentina. He has won three times in the United States. Last summer at Hollywood Park, Candy Ride won an allowance race and the Grade 2 American Handicap on turf.

Quick turnaround for Excessivepleasure

A month after finishing third in the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai, Excessivepleasure has been entered for Saturday's $150,000 Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park.

It is the quickest turnaround among the 13 American-trained horses that started in Dubai. Many are being given vacations.

Excessivepleasure is not a confirmed starter. Trainer Doug O'Neill said he will analyze the field with owners Ty and Lee Leatherman before finalizing plans.

"If it looks too tough, we'll wait," he said. "What we're doing is against the norm."

Excessivepleasure is one of nine entrants for the Tiznow, run over 7 1/2 furlongs on the main track. Green Team, a sprinter based in northern California, and Spinelessjellyfish, an 8-year-old multiple stakes winner, are top contenders.

The Tiznow is one of six stakes worth $150,000 or more on Saturday's California Gold Rush program, which is devoted solely to California-breds. The richest race is the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles.

Excessivepleasure is winless in four starts dating back to the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park last October. In the Godolphin Mile, Excessivepleasure finished 7 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Firebreak.

"He looks really well in his weight and coat for coming halfway around the world," O'Neill said of Excessivepleasure. "This race is over a track he's trained on his whole life and versus California-breds. It's hard to pass up. He seems best in a long one-turn race."

Bear Fan, the winner of the Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel in February, has entered the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Handicap for fillies and mares over seven furlongs. Trainer Wesley Ward had considering the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 1 for the multiple stakes winner.

The field of nine in the B. Thoughtful will also include Royally Chosen, who was supplemented for $3,000. She finished first in the Kalookan Queen Handicap at Santa Anita last December but was disqualified and placed second for interfering with Ema Bovary in deep stretch.

The Gold Rush program features a $1 million guaranteed pick six pool.

Valenzuela back in saddle

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela exercised five horses at Santa Anita on Wednesday and said he is ready to return to riding on Sunday at Hollywood Park.

Valenzuela said he exercised two horses for trainer Carla Gaines, and one for Juan Garcia, Mark Glatt, and Clifford Sise.

Valenzuela, who has not ridden since Jan. 19, received a stay from the California Horse Racing Board on April 16, allowing him to resuming riding while he appeals the termination of his conditional license by Santa Anita stewards on April 2.

Valenzuela, 41, had his conditional license voided for failing to submit to a mandatory drug test on Jan. 22.

CHRB chairman John Harris granted the stay. Had the board not granted the stay, Valenzuela was expected to go to Superior Court to ask for the right to resume riding.

Harris met with Valenzuela on April 13 and cited the jockey's recent treatment for depression as the main factor in granting the stay. During a hearing on March 28, Valenzuela argued before the stewards that he was fighting clinical depression.

When Valenzuela returns to riding, he will be subject to the same terms that were present in his conditional license, including reporting to the CHRB office each morning and a minimum of eight drug tests per month.

In addition, the board will require that Valenzuela undergo psychological counseling for depression.

"I felt great, like I hadn't been away," Valenzuela said Wednesday. "I'm really looking forward to being back on Sunday."

Sunday, Valenzuela has been booked to ride Makeup Artist in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap.

Harris was on the backstretch at Hollywood Park on Wednesday. He defended his decision to grant the stay, saying the court would have done so if the board had not.

"I don't think a lot of people realize how it works," he said. "We probably saved the board $5,000 or $6,000 in not having to go to court, where we would have probably lost and we might not have the same control."

Despite criticism by rival jockeys and some horsemen, Harris said that he has received e-mails supporting his decision to grant the stay.

"It's probably about 50-50 with the ones that have talked to me," he said. "But the ones that are mad at me probably don't talk to me."

Wilshire comes up strong

The Wilshire Handicap will have a strong field. Run over a mile on turf for fillies and mares, the race could draw as many as 10 runners, including Dimitrova, Dublino, Esmay, Fudge Fatale, Fun House, Katdogawn, Makeup Artist, Personal Legend, Quero Quero, and Spring Star.

Dimitrova, who won the American Oaks on this course last July, was a candidate for the Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita last Saturday but was withdrawn because she was found to have mucus. Trainer Neil Drysdale said Wednesday that she is on target for the Wilshire.

Pedroza not yet ready to ride

Jockey Martin Pedroza, who suffered a broken collarbone in a spill on March 28, will be out until early May, according to his agent, Richie Silverstein.

Pedroza underwent X-rays on Tuesday. Silverstein said doctors have advised two more weeks of rest and another session of X-rays on May 6.

"The plan is that the doctor will then give him the okay to ride," Silverstein said.

The delay will cause Pedroza to miss the Kentucky Derby weekend when many top local jockeys are riding at Churchill Downs.

"It's a big setback to not be here on Derby Day," Silverstein said. "The doctor said it was too risky for a re-break."

Sellers gets mount on House of Fortune

With Gary Stevens remaining in France on Kentucky Derby weekend, McAnally has given Shane Sellers the mount on House of Fortune in the Kentucky Oaks. House of Fortune won the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park earlier this month.

McAnally previously announced that Pat Day will ride Sweet Return in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 1.