02/23/2008 12:00AM

This time, Candy Ball gets it done

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Late last month, the Marie Krantz Memorial Handicap was rained off turf and onto dirt, Candy Ball set a slow pace, and Autobahn Girl made a late run to catch her at the wire. Saturday at Fair Grounds, the Bayou Handicap was rained off turf and onto dirt, Candy Ball set a slow pace, and nobody got close to her.

With Autobahn Girl running in place this time and winding up a distant fourth of six, Candy Ball raced alone through the stretch under jockey Miguel Mena, winning the $150,000 Bayou by 3 1/2 lengths for trainer Andy Leggio and owner Rancha Fresa Inc.

For 6-year-old Candy Ball, it was the biggest win in a 19-start career, and coming into the Bayou, Candy Ball had won only once in seven dirt starts, having gone 5 for 11 in grass races. But the move to dirt, if anything, helped on Saturday. Candy Ball ($10.80) broke alertly and quickly shook loose on the lead through slow fractions of 24.94 seconds for a quarter-mile, 49.75 for a half-mile, and 1:14.25 for three-quarters. Favored Autobahn Girl never really mounted a rally, and Candy Ball clearly was going best into and through the stretch, stopping the timer in 1:52.21 for 1 1/8 miles. Swingit, a distant last in the early going, finished well for second, and was followed home by Platinee.