01/05/2004 12:00AM

Ex-jockey, assistant trainer dies

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Bob Edens, a former jockey who assisted his wife, Mary, in the brilliant careers of Candy Eclair and Heavenly Ade, died Saturday in Aiken, S.C., where the couple had lived since 1988. He was 81.

Edens rode mostly in Ohio and West Virginia and was the sixth-leading rider in wins in the U.S. in 1946, but his career lasted only about 10 years due to weight problems. He became an exercise rider, foreman, and assistant trainer while working closely with his wife, who trained privately for the late Joan Paxson for about 10 years, beginning in the late 1970's.

Mary Edens assumed the training of Candy Eclair in 1979, the year after she won an Eclipse Award for top 2-year-old filly. Overall, Candy Eclair won 15 of 23 starts, including the Ashland Stakes, Grey Flight Handicap, and Shirley Jones Handicap for Edens.

Heavenly Ade won numerous stakes on the Eastern seaboard, most notably the 1980 Delaware Handicap, in which she set a track record when ridden by eventual Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey.

Funeral services and burial for Edens were scheduled for Tuesday in Aiken. Besides his wife, he is survived by three grown children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.