12/28/2001 1:00AM

Bad ankle alters Outofthebox's schedule


MIAMI - If it wasn't for bad luck trainer Steve Flint would have had no luck at all since shipping to south Florida earlier this month.

Flint's latest misfortune came last week when his handicap star Outofthebox* (click here for PP's) injured himself in his final work for Saturday's $100,000 Fred Hooper Jr. Handicap. The Hooper was to have served as a prep for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap but Flint not only had to hold Outofthebox out of the Hooper as a result of the mishap, he will also have to pass the Donn as well.

"He wrenched an ankle blowing out for the Hooper," a disappointed Flint explained. "It's nothing serious, just a minor setback, but he's going to need a little rest. He'll probably miss about 30 days."

Flint said if all goes well, Outofthebox should be able to return in time for the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 30.

Flint, who struck out on his own earlier this year, failed to hit the board with the first six horses he started at Calder until finally breaking the streak with a victory by Devillious in Friday's eighth race.

"The last couple of weeks have been the worst stretch in my life," said Flint. "But that's how things go in this business. You can have all the good horses in the world but if you're not having the luck you'll still be in trouble."

Racetrack or breeding shed for Jostle?

Trainer Elliott Walden reports that multiple Grade 1 winner Jostle* (click here for PP's) has shipped in to his Payson Park headquarters and will continue in light training, after which a decision on her future will be made.

Jostle sold as a broodmare prospect for $1.7 million at Keeneland's November sales but was put back into training by owner Pete Whitman earlier this month. She had originally been retired by previous owner Richard Porter in early September.

"We'll take it easy with her for the time being and see how she goes," said Walden. "All her X-rays and tests came back negative. Obviously she's a very talented filly who didn't have the greatest year last year. This is the first time she's really been given a break from racing so we'll see if that helps out. We'll keep all options open. The breeding season doesn't open until February 15 so that gives us plenty of time to decide whether to keep her in training or send her to the breeding shed."

Jostle won the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Alabama, and Cotillion for trainer John Servis as a 3-year-old in 2000 and has career earnings of nearly $1.4 million.

Apprentice takes time off for surgery

Apprentice Patra Jean, who registered the first hat trick of her riding career on Monday, will take some time off during the upcoming Gulfstream Park meeting to undergo minor surgery.

"The timing for the surgery is good and bad," said Jean after winning Thursday's finale aboard Miracle Twist. "Things have been going well here for me the past several weeks so in that respect it's not great. But I know Gulfstream will be a little slow so this way I can come back near the end of the meet and get some momentum going for the start of Calder in the spring."

Jean is currently the leading apprentice rider here and tied for 10th in the standings during the Tropical meet.

Forest Heiress preps for Old Hat

Forest Heiress, who won four of her five starts at 2, including the Grade 3 Sorority and Valley Stream stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:01 under jockey Eibar Coa at Gulfstream on Friday in preparation for her 3-year-old debut next Sunday in the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes at six furlongs.

"She's doing very well," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. "The current plan is to start with the Old Hat then try the Forward Gal and see how she does at seven furlongs. After that we'll make up our minds whether to stretch her out around two turns in the Bonnie Miss or keep her short and send her to Keeneland for the Beaumont."

Perkins will spend most of the winter up north where he has 20 horses in training in New York and another dozen in Maryland. His father, Ben Sr., will oversee the six horses he currently has stabled at Gulfstream.

o Among the other notables to train over a dull Gulfstream strip on Friday were Harlan Traveler (half-mile in 49 seconds), Handsome Hunk (five furlongs in 1:01), and Windsor Castle (five furlongs in 1:02.40). Handsome Hunk is among the probable starters for the Spectacular Bid Stakes, the feature event on Thursday's opening day program at Gulfstream.

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