09/21/2003 11:00PM

Oak Tree full of stars

Among the Breeders' Cup-bound horses who will prep at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet are Azeri (above) and Toccet. Candy Ride, however, is being given an extended vacation.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Ron McAnally made official on Monday what he had hinted at over the weekend, saying that Candy Ride, the Pacific Classic winner, would not race again this year and would miss the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

The eight-race Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is the highlight of the Oak Tree meeting, which begins on Sunday. The meet is beginning a few days early - it was originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 1 - in order to give several Breeders' Cup-bound horses a chance to have a prep race four weeks before the championship day.

Candy Ride was not scheduled to have a prep race at Oak Tree, but he was expected to be one of the leading contenders for the Breeders' Cup Classic and for Horse of the Year. McAnally said he believes Candy Ride needs time off.

"I just think it's in the best interests of the horse," McAnally said. "This is solely my idea. He's such a genuine horse. It's not often one comes along like this. He's something special. I don't want to hurt him. The Breeders' Cup is such a tough race, and he's a young horse. I just think the time off would do him good."

Candy Ride, who is stabled with McAnally at Santa Anita, has not had a workout since his victory in last month's Pacific Classic at Del Mar. And he will not be working any time soon. McAnally said he recently had Candy Ride's shoes removed to try to spread his feet out.

"He's always had small feet," McAnally said. "I'd like him to have a larger foot, because there's less impact. This will help him next year."

There are four races with Breeders' Cup implications on Sunday, including scheduled appearances by division leaders Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap for older fillies and mares, and Halfbridled in the Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Sunday's other stakes are the Yellow Ribbon Stakes for female grass runners, and the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship.

Oak Tree's remaining Breeders' Cup prep races are spread out the weekend of Oct. 4-5. First up is the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap for older horses, followed by a tripleheader the next day that consists of the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap for sprinters, Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile on turf, and Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds.

With Candy Ride out, several other horses now on the West Coast are looking to fill his void. Pleasantly Perfect, last year's Goodwood winner, is being pointed to a return to action in the Goodwood. He has not raced since this spring, but he worked one mile in 1:39 on Sunday at Santa Anita.

Also pointing for the Goodwood is Toccet, who recently arrived here from Maryland. Toccet worked six furlongs in 1:13 at Santa Anita on Sunday.

"He's bouncing around this morning," his trainer, John Scanlan, said Monday. Dan Borislow, who owns Toccet, said that Julie Krone would ride Toccet in the Goodwood. Krone rode Candy Ride in the Pacific Classic.

Medaglia d'Oro, who finished second to Candy Ride in the Pacific Classic, is bypassing the Goodwood to await the Breeders' Cup Classic. He worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Monday at Hollywood Park for trainer Bobby Frankel.

At Santa Anita on Monday, Got Koko, who is scheduled to face Azeri in the Lady's Secret, worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 for trainer Bruce Headley.

Victory U. S. A., the beaten favorite in the Del Mar Debutante, flew seven furlongs in 1:24.40. Her trainer, Bob Baffert, said Victory U. S. A. will not have a rematch with Debutante winner Halfbridled in the Oak Leaf, and will instead head to New York for the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 4. Baffert said Jerry Bailey will ride.

"She's going to New York because the race there is a Grade 1," Baffert said. "That's the main reason. The Oak Leaf is a Grade 2 race.

"[The Frizette is] also around one turn. And why should I run her against a horse she can walk under?" Baffert said, referring to the disparity in size between Victory U. S. A. and Halfbridled, who is huge.