08/17/2003 11:00PM

Stevens out for a month


DEL MAR, Calif. - Gary Stevens will be out one month because of injuries suffered in a terrifying accident in Saturday's Arlington Million, and will miss several key rides this weekend, most notably on the unbeaten Candy Ride in Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Stevens suffered a collapsed lung, and X-rays also revealed a fracture to a cervical vertebra, but according to Stevens's theatrical agent, Ed Goldstone, doctors are not sure if the fracture previously existed or was caused in Saturday's accident.

"That is true. He has a fracture," Goldstone said Monday. "But it is manageable. And it could have happened from a fall years ago. They're not sure it happened in this spill.

"What's keeping him out is the collapsed lung. He's going to be out about a month, but he plans on being back in plenty of time for the Breeders' Cup."

Goldstone, the head of Goldstone Entertainment, said Stevens was likely to be released from the hospital on Tuesday. Stevens, who portrays the jockey George Woolf in the film "Seabiscuit," has been at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., near Arlington Park, since shortly after Saturday's accident.

Stevens was injured when Storming Home, on his way to an apparent victory, suddenly veered out just before the finish, dislodging Stevens into the path of oncoming horses. "He told me this was as scary an accident as he's ever been in," Goldstone said. "He thought he was having a heart attack in the ambulance on the way to the hospital because he couldn't get his breath. He also has a gash behind his ear."

Stevens's lengthy absence was anticipated by other riders' jockey agents, who swarmed around Candy Ride's trainer, Ron McAnally, at Del Mar on Monday morning. "They were like sharks this morning," McAnally said. McAnally said he was to speak with Candy Ride's owners, Sid and Jenny Craig, on Monday afternoon before deciding who would replace Stevens.

There are numerous candidates. The Pacific Classic has a prospective field of just five, and two of the jockeys are coming in from Saratoga for the race. In addition to Candy Ride, the field for the 1 1/4-mile race is expected to include Fleetstreet Dancer (with Tyler Baze to ride), Kudos (Alex Solis), Medaglia d'Oro (Jerry Bailey), and Milwaukee Brew (Edgar Prado).

Solis rode Candy Ride in his first start in this country, then Stevens rode him to victory in the American Handicap. According to McAnally, Solis's agent, Scotty McClellan, asked Kudos's trainer, Richard Mandella, if Solis could switch mounts, but Mandella requested that McClellan and Solis honor their commitment to Kudos.

So, Candy Ride remains open. Likely candidates to replace Stevens include Julie Krone, Corey Nakatani, and Mike Smith, all of whom ride frequently for McAnally. Patrick Valenzuela, who was tied with Krone for leading rider at the meet going into Monday, is also available, but he does not ride for McAnally as often as the others do.

Mandella also nominated both Bayou to the Moon and Redattore to the Pacific Classic, but on Monday said that "my only intention is to run Kudos." Redattore worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Monday.

Reba's Gold, who worked five furlongs on Monday in 1:00, also is nominated to the race, but trainer Dan Hendricks said Reba's Gold would likely wait for the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap at one mile on Sept. 1.

"We've managed his career to a 'T.' We're not going to veer off just yet," Hendricks said. "The other race sets up super for him, and he gets an extra week."

Medaglia d'Oro and Milwaukee Brew, both trained by Bobby Frankel, were scheduled to arrive in California late Monday afternoon after a flight from New York.