06/12/2002 12:00AM

LeBlanc gets Candid Glen for Turf Cup


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Candid Glen, a three-time stakes winner who has been ridden by E.J. Perrodin in all but one of his 23 career starts, will have a new pilot Saturday for the $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park.

Perrodin, considered one of the best turf riders in the region, has been sidelined the past several weeks with back pain following a spill, and will be replaced by Kirk LeBlanc, the leading jockey at Louisiana Downs last year who currently ranks among the top 10 riders at Lone Star.

"Kirk has been working him since E.J.'s been hurt," said Andrew Leggio Jr., who trains Candid Glen. "He's really not a hard horse to ride. You've got to make that one run with him. The timing has to be just right. That's how he's won his races, in the last jump. E.J. and him get along good."

In the last two years, Perrodin has guided the late-running Candid Glen to consecutive nose wins in $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park, run over the same 1 1/8-mile distance of the Dallas Turf Cup.

LeBlanc has been getting familiar with Candid Glen the past several weeks, and Leggio is pleased with how the horse is coming into the race, which will be his first in two months. "I think he's on top of his game right now," Leggio said. "I expect to see the usual race he runs all the time, making that big run."

Candid Glen will likely start as the second highweight in the Dallas Turf Cup, pulling four pounds from probable favorite Suances, who is highweighted at 118. Candid Glen, a 5-year-old son of El Gran Senor, has won seven races and $553,690 for owner Glen Warren.

Congaree runners-up return

Prince Iroquois and Mercenary, who finished a respective second and third to Congaree last month in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, will make their first starts since that race Friday night in the eighth, a one-mile allowance that serves as a prep for the $75,000 Bob Johnson Memorial on July 14.

Prince Iroquios, dismissed at 48-1, and Mercenary, 42-1, outran their odds in the Lone Star Park Handicap. Both have worked back well since the race, and rate as leading contenders Friday. Gerard Melancon has the call on Prince Iroquois for trainer Cole Norman; Casey Lambert will ride Mercenary for trainer Bret Calhoun.

Minor surgery for Gold Nugget

Gold Nugget, a turf specialist who has earned more than $600,000, had a myectomy, or throat surgery, two weeks ago after finishing seventh in a local allowance prep for the Dallas Turf Cup, a race he won in 2000.

"[Jockey] Ronald [Ardoin] thought he had trouble getting his air. He said he was making a wheezing noise," said Gerald Romero, who trains Gold Nugget. "He's doing good now, and is ready to breeze back."

Romero is pointing Gold Nugget for an allowance in July.

* Heading into the races Wednesday night, jockey Don Pettinger was 24 wins away from 3,000.