08/24/2003 11:00PM

Stevens coaches Krone on Candy Ride

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Gary Stevens stood in the winner's circle after Candy Ride's win in Sunday's Pacific Classic at Del Mar, beaming like a proud coach.

Unable to take the mount because of a collapsed lung suffered in a spill in the Arlington Million on Aug. 16, Stevens resorted to the role of advisor to jockey Julie Krone.

Stevens had just watched his instructions result in a track record performance - 1:59.15 for 1 1/4 miles.

"It's the happiest I've been to not win one," Stevens said. "I feel like I rode him."

On Sunday evening, Krone credited Stevens for his advice in a jockeys' room strategy session on Saturday.

"He had me so excited when he left, I felt like I'd already won the race," Krone said. "He made me so confident."

Krone and Stevens discussed Candy Ride's style, the way he switches leads and how little a rider needs to urge him to get a response. Stevens rode Candy Ride to victory in the American Handicap at Hollywood Park in July and was aboard for recent workouts.

"She rode him to a T," Stevens said. "He needed someone to point him and push the button when it's time."

Stevens might return by the weekend

Last week, Stevens said he would be out for a month while recovering from his injury, but he said on Sunday he hopes to ride as soon as this weekend. He said the decision hinges on whether he can work horses by Wednesday.

"I get sleepy tired, but not physically tired," he said. "I'm not sore, other than my chest. If it continues to progress, I'll come back for Labor Day weekend."

Captain Squire tries Del Mar BC

Captain Squire ran so well in winning the Sunshine Millions Sprint last January that he understandably was labeled as a sprinter.

On Monday, trainer Jeff Mullins is hoping to enhance the reputation of the 4-year-old Captain Squire, running him in the $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap over a mile on dirt.

The ultra-consistent Captain Squire will be racing around two turns for the first time since a third-place finish in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park in August 2002. That was part of a current eight-race streak of top-three finishes for Captain Squire.

In races at a mile or farther, Captain Squire has won 3 of 7 starts, including the 2002 Turf Paradise Derby.

"He can rate," Mullins said. "He made most of his money routing when he was 3."

Owned by Bob Bone and Jeff Diener, Captain Squire has won 5 of 13 starts and $711,800. This year, he has raced exclusively at six furlongs. Following the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita, Captain Squire finished third in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen in late March and second to Beau's Town in the Grade 2 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap here on July 26.

In the Bing Crosby, Beau's Town closed from fourth to finish within 1 1/2 lengths of Beau's Town.

Mullins was candid in his assessment of that race. "He just got outrun," he said.

Captain Squire raced on or near the lead in his two-turn races last year and will have company up front in the Del Mar BC Handicap.

Taste of Paradise, the winner of the San Diego Handicap on Aug. 3, is a front-runner.

Other probable starters are Crafty C.T., Grey Memo, Joey Franco, Primerica, and Reba's Gold, who worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Monday.

The Del Mar BC Handicap is one of three $250,000 races on Labor Day weekend.

The Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante for 2-year-old fillies over seven furlongs on Saturday will have a short field. Solar Fire and Wind Flow, who were third and fourth in the Sorrento Stakes on Aug. 9, are in, with Halfbridled, Victory U. S. A., Shadow of Mine, and Hollywood Story. Victory U. S. A. may be favored on the strength of her 6 1/2-length maiden win Aug. 3.

Victory U. S. A. worked five furlongs in 58.60 seconds on Monday morning, which was the fastest time of 62 horses to work at the distance.

Sunday's top race is the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf. Bonus Pack, the winner of the Escondido Handicap on Aug. 6, faces Ballingarry, Continental Red, Irish Warrior, Kim Loves Bucky, Mister Acpen, and Mont Saint Michel. Ballingarry worked five furlongs on turf Monday in 1:04.20.

Machowsky does right by Fencelineneighbor

Doing nothing worked perfectly for trainer Mike Machowsky on Saturday.

He considered scratching Fencelineneighbor from the Barona Cup Handicap in favor of running in the Torrey Pines Stakes on Sept. 7, but changed his mind.

Then, he decided against giving jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. instructions in the paddock.

"I told him, 'Don't listen to anything I tell you. Just ride her the way you want,'" he said.

Benefiting from an ideal stalking trip, Fencelineneighbor beat Valentine Dancer by 1 1/4 lengths. Owned by Frank Bertolino, Fencelineneighbor ran a mile on turf in 1:34.51.

Machowsky considered scratching Fencelineneighbor to try her on dirt, but is now willing to postpone those plans.

"She trained so well on the dirt," he said. "We'll worry about that later."

Instead, Fencelineneighbor may start in the $100,000 Harold Ramser Handicap at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 12. The Ramser is run over a mile on turf and seldom draws the circuit's best 3-year-old fillies, many of whom go to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup instead.

$2.7 million filly Diamond Fury works

Diamond Fury, an unraced 2-year-old purchased for a record $2.7 million in March, worked five furlongs from the gate in 59 seconds on Sunday.

Trained by Baffert, Diamond Fury is owned by Charles Fipke, the president of a diamond mining business in Canada.

By Sea of Secrets, Diamond Fury was acquired by Fipke at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training, and is the most expensive 2-year-old bought at auction.

Minister Eric eyes Futurity off maiden win

Minister Eric will be considered for the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 10 after winning a six-furlong maiden race in his third start on Sunday.

Ridden by Alex Solis, Minister Eric stalked Odds On to the turn and fought with that colt in the early stretch before winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Minister Eric races for breeder Gerald Ford and trainer Richard Mandella.

Odds On was making his first career start. By Silver Charm, Odds On is trained by Baffert and was purchased for $360,000 as a yearling by Jim McIngvale.

Third-largest Pacific Classic crowd ever

The on-track attendance of 30,458 for Sunday's Pacific Classic program was the third-highest in the history of the race, but a drop of 18 percent from the Classic card last year.

The field for the race in 2002 included Kentucky Derby War Emblem. The largest crowd in track history was 44,181, for the 1996 Pacific Classic, when Dare and Go upset Cigar.

Sunday's total handle of $19,094,359 was the seventh highest in track history.

Testing. Testing. Inappropriate joke coming.

Strange things can happen when roadies do microphone checks before racetrack concerts.

At 1:25 p.m. on Saturday, five hours before the Violent Femmes performed, the person doing the sound check said, "Check. One. Two. Three. The races are fixed."

Fortunately for Del Mar management, only a fraction of the ontrack crowd of 22,999 was there when the sound check occurred.