02/15/2006 12:00AM

Rider honors call on 'Saints'


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Javier Castellano rode Candy Box to an easy first-level allowance victory here earlier in the meet. He also has been the regular jockey for the fast but inconsistent Song of the Saints, aboard whom he won a pair of races during the spring of 2005.

Unfortunately for Castellano, Candy Box and Song of the Saints wound up in the same second-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Friday. So Castellano gave up the mount on Candy Box, which went to John Velazquez, and honored the call his agent already had given trainer Rusty Arnold for Song of the Saints.

, Song of the Saints, and the lightly raced but talented Lady Wrangler top a field of 11 fillies and mares who will go seven furlongs in Friday's main event, which carries a $35,000 purse.

"I had already given Rusty the call on Song of the Saints, but Candy Box was doing so well Bryan decided to put her in the race as well," Castellano's agent, Mike Kelly, said, referring to Candy Box's trainer, Bryan Lynch. "That's just the way things go in this business."

Candy Box finished a game second after contesting the pace with Castellano up for the first time in her 3-year-old finale at Calder. The horse and rider reunited here four weeks later, changed tactics, and rallied from off the pace to an easy 3 1/2-length allowance win.

"She really relaxed nicely in her last start and ran very well," Castellano said. "And she should be very tough to beat on Friday."

Castellano has ridden in all six of her career starts, including a second-place finish in her career debut here last winter, an 8 3/4-length maiden win at Keeneland in April, and a 2 3/4-length first-level allowance victory at Belmont Park in May. But after Song of the Saints finished a tiring sixth under allowance conditions at Saratoga in August, Arnold sent her to the sidelines for the remainder of the year.

"She's very fast and ran some good races for me last year," Castellano said of Song of the Saints.

"I haven't been on her this winter, but I heard she's been working very well at Palm Meadows."

was an easy winner of her first two career starts in Kentucky before finishing second behind the odds-on Ever Elusive under second-level allowance conditions here on Jan. 8.

She will be ridden for the first time by Edgar Prado on Friday.