08/25/2003 11:00PM

Taste of Paradise no bomb this time

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Emerald Downs
Sky Jack wins the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Sunday. His next race will probably be the Cal Cup Classic, which he won in 2000.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Taste of Paradise was dismissed at 37-1 when he won the San Diego Handicap earlier this month, but he will not be anywhere near that price when he starts in Monday's Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, the highlight of the Labor Day program at Del Mar.

Taste of Paradise has worked swiftly since that race, including a six-furlong drill in 1:10.80 on Tuesday morning. He has never finished out of the money in three starts at Del Mar.

"He's doing good. He likes this track," trainer, John Sadler said Tuesday morning. "I thought he'd run well last time, but I didn't think he'd win it necessarily."

Taste of Paradise was assigned 115 pounds for Monday's one-mile race, one pound fewer than those weighted heaviest. Among those scheduled to run, six horses are weighted at 115 or 116 pounds.

Congaree, who won the race last year, was nominated again, but trainer Bob Baffert never seriously considered running him, and declared Congaree before weights for the race were issued.

Crafty C.T., also scheduled for the race, worked six furlongs in 1:11.20 on Tuesday for trainer Howard Zucker.

The field, with riders, is expected to be Captain Squire (Alex Solis), Crafty C.T. (Mike Smith), Grey Memo (Kent Desormeaux), Joey Franco (Patrick Valenzuela), Primerica (Julie Krone), Reba's Gold (David Flores), and Taste of Paradise (Victor Espinoza).

Candy Ride's old injury didn't deter McAnally

Candy Ride, the dazzling winner of Sunday's Pacific Classic, has an old sesamoid fracture in his left front leg, suffered at a young age, that apparently made several trainers and veterinarians apprehensive when considering purchasing him from Argentina. Ron McAnally, who acquired Candy Ride for owners Sid and Jenny Craig, said the injury did not bother him.

Why not?

"Because he was racing with it," McAnally said. "It was the same situation with another horse we bought there for the Craigs, Different. She had a sesamoid, but it never bothered her. Candy Ride has had it since he was young, and he's winning with it. His action is smooth as silk."

According to McAnally, Candy Ride's injury occurred before he was sold as a yearling. "He was bought at a sale, and the people who bought him as a yearling wanted the consignor to take him back," McAnally said. "Eventually they bought him for half the original price."

Several other trainers were approached regarding Candy Ride, but McAnally pursued him most aggressively, flying to Argentina to close the deal. Baffert said he saw videotape of Candy Ride, and examined the colt's X-rays, but never made a trip to Argentina to look at Candy Ride. According to Baffert, a ligament wrapped around the fracture, and the fracture calcified, giving it stability.

"I saw the X-rays. Isitingood," Baffert said, referring to a stakes horse he trained, "had the same thing. He looks like an American horse. Most of those South American horses are goofy looking, coarse. He's refined. He looks like a speed horse. He's got awesome conformation."

O'Neill has a Candy Ride of his own

Doug O'Neill did not win the Pacific Classic, but he might have been the second-happiest trainer with the race's result. His longshot Fleetstreet Dancer passed Milwaukee Brew to claim third place and a $120,000 paycheck. And then later in the day, O'Neill saddled Sky Jack for an impressive victory in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

O'Neill said Fleetstreet Dancer was first nominated to the Pacific Classic after co-owner Ty Leatherman read that the expected field was going to be small.

"Thank God I've got an owner who can read," O'Neill said.

"Ty, after the race, he was having a glass of champagne like he'd won the race," O'Neill said. "I thought he had a chance to close and pick up a piece. We knew we were guaranteed $60,000 for finishing fourth once Kudos scratched, but we didn't want to go out there and be embarrassed."

O'Neill said Fleetstreet Dancer will likely wait to make his next start until a stakes race on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 25. "It's perfect timing-wise. Two months between starts," O'Neill said.

Sky Jack returned to Santa Anita on Tuesday. He will probably make his next start in the California Cup Classic, which Sky Jack won in 2000, but O'Neill said he is considering taking Sky Jack to the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. Both races are in November.

"We'll see. He's such a day-to-day horse," O'Neill said. Sky Jack has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. Now age 7, he has raced just 18 times.

- Desormeaux on Monday night fired agent Tom Knust and replaced him with Brad Pegram, who currently represents Frank Alvarado. "I started working for him this morning," Pegram said Tuesday. Desormeaux, who rode in Japan for two months earlier this summer, is seventh in the Del Mar standings, with 12 victories from 113 mounts.

- Valenzuela leads the jockeys' standings with 35 victories, four more than Krone.

- The 2-year-old filly Glorious Choice had to be euthanized after suffering a catastrophic fracture while racing on the far turn of a five-furlong turf race on Monday. "She fractured her pastern. It was bad," said Baffert, her trainer. Del Mar's turf has numerous pockmarks, clearly visible from the grandstand. In recent days, the course has had a green dye sprayed over yellowing portions.

- Mister Acpen worked a half-mile in 46.40 seconds for trainer Kristin Mulhall on Tuesday morning in preparation for Sunday's Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf. Ballingarry was assigned top weight of 119 pounds for that race.

- Danny Sorenson, who injured his neck in an accident at Santa Anita earlier this year, is planning to return to riding when Fairplex opens in two weeks.