11/30/2001 12:00AM

E Z Glory a horse on the rise

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NEW ORLEANS - It was a year ago that Concerned Minister wowed racing observers here, winning the Tenacious Handicap by more than 11 lengths, equaling the track record for 1 1/16 miles, and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 121, one of the highest speed figures recorded in 2000.

It was a huge move forward for Concerned Minister, and if any of the six horses entered this year in the $75,000 Tenacious is to come close to duplicating Concerned Minister's performance, he, too, will have to step up his game.

The horse to beat is Valhol, provided he returns in good form from a lengthy layoff, but the horse with the most upside is E Z Glory, who makes his stakes debut for owner Yushio Fujita and trainer Carl Bowman.

Bowman waited patiently for E Z Glory to develop, letting the colt work through his allowance conditions and running him in a "money-since" allowance at Churchill Downs Nov. 10. E Z Glory has responded by winning three straight races, his last two in particularly impressive fashion. Jockey Pat Day, a pretty fair judge of talent, told Bowman he had a promising horse after E Z Glory's last win at Churchill.

E Z Glory is by Cox's Ridge, whose offspring typically are long-winded and slow to mature. That's true of E Z Glory, but in terms of appearance the 4-year-old colt is smaller than most horses by Cox's Ridge. "He's a pretty handy-looking horse," Bowman said, "and that's one thing I liked about him."

E Z Glory, who carries 115 pounds, will be ridden by Rene Douglas. Douglas was aboard for the colt's third-level allowance win at Arlington this summer.

Valhol, meanwhile, has missed much of this year, first with an injury, then with pneumonia, and will be making his first start since a third-place finish in the New Orleans Handicap here March 4.

Valhol's has been a strange career from the start. He won the Arkansas Derby as a maiden, only to be disqualified when his jockey, Billy Patin, was found to have carried an electrical device. Valhol was out of action for more than a year after finishing third in the Ohio Derby in the summer of 1999, and had just come back to his best form for owner Jim Jackson and trainer Dallas Keen when he was injured in the spring.

There is plenty of speed entered in the Tenacious, with stretch-out sprinter Dixieland Diamond perhaps the speed of the speed.