10/29/2003 1:00AM

Unbeaten 2-year-old Cactus Ridge is retired


STICKNEY, Ill. - The undefeated 2-year-old Cactus Ridge left trainer Bret Calhoun's Hawthorne barn on Wednesday morning, and he is not returning here, or to any other racetrack.

Cactus Ridge's racing career is over, Calhoun said Wednesday afternoon from Louisiana Downs. The colt left Chicago for Kentucky and will take up residence at Walmac Farm near Lexington. "They'll let him be viewed during the breeding sale at Keeneland," Calhoun said. "He won't run again. There's interest in him as a stallion prospect."

Cactus Ridge was less than one week away from making a start in last Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but was found to be lame on the morning of Oct. 19, the day after a powerful workout here, and was found to have a fractured right knee.

"It's a fracture to the third carpal bone," said Calhoun. "If he was a claiming horse, you'd give him four to six months and bring him back, but I think the odds of him coming back to where he was aren't good. He's undefeated and he's got some pedigree."

Cactus Ridge won races this year with ease. His best victories came in the Ellis Park Juvenile and the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity, Cactus Ridge's final start before his injury.

Rebridled Dreams headed to Hawthorne Oaks

The news is brighter for the Calhoun-trained 3-year-old filly Rebridled Dreams, who came out of an overnight stakes win here last week in good shape and remains on target for the $100,000 Hawthorne Oaks on Nov. 15.

Rebridled Dreams went down with a fractured hind ankle last spring and lost the first start of her comeback in September, but she has bounced back with a pair of two-turn wins at the Hawthorne meet, including a 3 1/4-length score last Friday in the $40,000 Money Penny Stakes.

"She was running back a little bit too quick, but it was too good a spot to pass up getting her a stakes win," Calhoun said. "She has 22 days between starts now, and that's a good amount of time to come back on."

McMahon goes to Carey off surprise score

Trainer Michelle Boyce was mainly looking to get a race into McMahon when she ran him here Oct. 12 in the $40,000 Crafty Drone Stakes, just the second turf start of the 5-year-old's career.

"I had wanted to try him on turf, and I chose that race because it was a mile - I didn't think he was fit enough to go a mile and a sixteenth - and I wanted to get him ready to run somewhere else," Boyce conceded.

The Crafty Drone turned into more than a prep. McMahon cruised to a 1 1/4-length win, earning a start on Saturday in the $150,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap.

As of Wednesday, McMahon was one of 10 probable starters in the Carey, a Grade 3, one-mile turf race. Mystery Giver, who was assigned top weight of 120 pounds, is among the group of probables. Other top contenders are the Kentucky shippers Naraingang and Moonshine Hall, a 3-year-old.

McMahon, a pace factor throughout his career, made all the running in the Crafty Drone, and he figures to be on the lead again Saturday. "I didn't have him as tight as I would have liked last time, but he didn't seem to get tired," Boyce said. "He should move forward this time."

Golden Ellen may be best of light bunch

This is the time of year when first-level allowance races at Hawthorne begin coming up light in quality. The only open allowance on Hawthorne's Friday card is a first-level allowance, and, yes, the race is on the weak side.

Bettors have two obvious options here: claimers or recent maiden graduates. Or, digging down slightly further, one could make a case for Golden Ellen, who should offer fair win odds.

Golden Ellen won her maiden over this track by nearly 10 lengths last March, and though she has not come close to winning in four starts since, Golden Ellen has endured a run of tough luck. Her two most recent starts came in turf routes, and there is a good chance Golden Ellen favors the conditions of Friday's race, six furlongs on dirt. Her trainer, Joe Kasperski, is winless from 19 starters at the meet, but many of Kasperski's horses have run well in defeat.